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7-Eleven workers hailed by Japan police for helping elderly woman avoid fraud

Kyohei Ishikawa, left, and Estuko Shinohara, who helped a customer avoid becoming a victim of fraud, are seen receiving a certificate of thanks recognizing their good deed, at Ehime Prefectural Police's Matsuyama Higashi Police Station, on July 22, 2020. (Mainichi/Ryo Endo)

MATSUYAMA -- Employees at a convenience store in this western Japan city went as far as accompanying an older woman to her home to stop her becoming a victim of fraud, after suspicions were aroused when she came to them asking how to get electronic money to pay to have a virus removed from her computer.

The actions of the two employees, Etsuko Shinohara, 39, and Kyohei Ishikawa, 30, and the manager, Kunie Tominaga, 55, were recognized by Ehime Prefectural Police's Matsuyama Higashi Station on July 22, with a certificate of thanks presented to the 7-Eleven Matsuyama Yuwatarimachi store.

According to police and other sources, the woman in her 70s came to the store at around 3:30 p.m. on July 10, and asked Shinohara if they "have any electronic money." When Shinohara asked her why she was asking, she told them, "I called a phone number that popped up on a website, and they told me, 'Your computer has been infected with a virus. Buy 20,000 yen worth of electric money.'"

The employees then asked her if she would be able to bring the laptop and show them the screen with the issue, but because she wasn't sure how to use it, Ishikawa accompanied her to her home about five minutes away on foot. They were able to take a look at the computer, and work out it was a scam.

In recent years, fraud schemes in which people are made to buy electronic money and then tell the purchase number to the fraudster by phone or email so it can be stolen have become more prevalent. The employees expressed relief, with Ishikawa saying, "We went all the way to her house, but I'm glad she didn't become a victim."

(Japanese original by Ryo Endo, Matsuyama Bureau)

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