Japanese Police Introduce "Scam Prevention Cards" to Combat Telephone Frauds

The primary objective of the cards, strategically positioned in convenience stores, is to identify potential scam victims and shield them from financial losses

Neon horse images
The innovative anti-scam solution was introduced in November 2023

Malware research team VX-Underground reports the success of the new anti-scam solution developed by The Fukui Prefectural Police Echizen Police Station in Japan. The "Virus/Trojan horse removal fee payment card" and the "Unpaid charges/delinquent charges payment card" are two innovative tools designed to thwart fraudulent activities primarily targeting unsuspecting telephone users.

These counterfeit cards, strategically positioned at convenience stores across the region, serve a dual purpose: to identify potential scam victims and prevent them from suffering financial losses. As VX-Underground explains, "When someone tries to purchase the card, the police are immediately notified." This allows the police to intervene before any harm occurs. The cards may also hold the potential for tracing scammers.

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VX-Underground states that there is no exact information on the success rate so far; however, there were at least three known cases of elderly people being safeguarded from financial losses soon after the introduction of the initiative in November 2023. It may be safe to assume the anti-scam solution proved to be effective since, according to VX-Underground, "the police officers who came up with the idea were given a promotion in February 2024."

Virus and Trojan horse removal fee payment cards
Source: VX-Underground, X

The news about the solution has sparked a discussion in the X community. Some users suggested that, by tying the scam prevention cards to a monitored government account, any attempted fraudulent transactions would essentially entail theft from the state rather than ordinary citizens. For instance, X user Alex Trapini believes that this shift could potentially enable law enforcement agencies to utilize different legal mechanisms and pursue more robust measures in apprehending perpetrators of financial scams.

Trojan and virus removal scams targeted by the innovative fee payment cards introduced by the Japanese police are a classic example of technical support fraud, where cybercriminals pose as legitimate specialists willing to help users of devices infected with malware. To remove a virus or a Trojan horse, they usually require a fee.

Often, threat actors would contact their potential victims through various channels and urge them to remove the malware with their help. In many cases, victims’ computers are actually not even affected by any malware, but the sense of threat and urgency coupled with intimidating technical jargon can trick many unsuspecting users into paying for such services.

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Payments required by scammers are increasingly being conducted in cryptocurrency. Alternatively, scammers also request credit card information or suggest buying gift cards.

In return for a payment, victims may receive a bogus antivirus program or go through a fake malware removal procedure. Unfortunately, in certain scenarios, scammers may further abuse their victims by making them install additional malware under the guise of a legitimate Trojan or virus removal application. Such software can facilitate further theft of sensitive information or exploit victims’ devices, for instance, by mining cryptocurrency.