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Fraudulent calls about 'priority' COVID-19 vaccinations reported in central Japan

The Nagano Prefectural Police headquarters (Mainichi/Taisuke Shimabukuro)

NAGANO -- Suspicious calls telling residents in the central Japan prefecture of Nagano that they can receive coronavirus vaccinations on a priority basis have been reported, prompting police to call out for locals to be on their guard against such fraudulent calls.

    According to Nagano Prefectural Police and the Iida public health center in the prefecture, a resident in the Iida-Shimoina district received a call on his cell phone from a person proclaiming to be a pharmaceutical company employee on Jan. 18, saying, "We are in collaboration with a vaccine manufacturer, so if you apply in advance, you can receive priority in getting vaccinated in January."

    The resident consulted the Iida public health center, asking if he could be inoculated if he remitted a deposit. He then realized that the call was from a fraudster. Several similar phone calls have been confirmed in Tokyo and other areas.

    As of Jan. 20, no public health centers or pharmaceutical companies in Japan had begun accepting reservations for coronavirus vaccinations, and inoculations to be given by local municipalities will be free of charge.

    A representative of prefectural police's special fraud prevention office commented, "As there will likely be the kind of crimes that take advantage of the social circumstances amid the coronavirus crisis, we urge people to consult public health centers and police without making judgments on their own. Please protect yourselves by using voice mail and other means."

    (Japanese original by Masahito Minagawa, Nagano Bureau)

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