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Tokyo local police distribute flyers to combat coronavirus vaccine fraudsters

A flyer warning against suspicious calls from people asking for deposit fees for vaccines is seen being put up by a member of the Metropolitan Police Department's Takinogawa Police Station, in Kita Ward, Tokyo, on Jan. 18, 2021. (Mainichi/Hironori Tsuchie)

TOKYO -- With a state of emergency over the coronavirus in effect once again, a Tokyo police station has started distributing flyers to a supermarket as part of attempts to warn people against a new specialized fraud in which targets are asked to pay deposits for vaccinations and other medical services.

    After receiving reports of the suspicious telephone calls, the Metropolitan Police Department's Takinogawa Police Station began on Jan. 18 to put up warning leaflets at the Takinogawa branch of the supermarket Comodi-Iida, in the capital's Kita Ward.

    According to the police station, since the state of emergency was declared in Tokyo on Jan. 8, they've heard of multiple cases of individuals receiving calls from people claiming to be employees at government offices and public health centers, who tell them tales including, "Elderly people will be the priority for receiving coronavirus vaccines and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Please wire a deposit."

    So far, no victims have been identified, but concerns persist that the calls will increase in the future, so local police decided to put up the flyers at the supermarket and distribute them to homes.

    The police station urged caution, saying, "Vaccinations and PCR tests don't cost money to book. If you think something is suspicious, we want you to end the call and report it to the police."

    (Japanese original by Hironori Tsuchie, City News Department)

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