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'We have a system error': Japanese 7-Eleven store's lie saves man from e-money fraud

The three 7-Eleven workers hold their certificates of appreciation in front of the Iga Hirano Kitadani store in Iga, Mie Prefecture. (Mainichi/Yasuhiro Onishi)

IGA, Mie -- Two convenience store workers and a manager who stopped a man from falling victim to an e-money scam by stalling him until a police officer arrived have been handed certifications of appreciation from police in this central Japan city.

    Iga Police Station presented the certificates to Haruka Yamada, 28, and Kaho Arimura, 18, both part-time workers at the Iga Hirano Kitadani 7-Eleven store in the Mie Prefecture city of Iga, and 29-year-old Satoshi Kobayashi, a Seven Eleven Japan Co. employee in charge of the store.

    According to the station, an unemployed man in his 70s came into the store at about 11:40 a.m. on May 27 and tried to purchase 250,000-yen (about $2,260) worth of electronic money. Yamada and Arimura suspected fraud, and tried to dissuade the man from doing so, but he didn't listen to them, so they called Kobayashi. Kobayashi told them he would alert police and instructed them to stall the man until an officer arrived.

    The two workers discussed the matter and told the man, "We have a system error." They managed to keep the man in the store until an officer from Iga Police Station arrived, and prevented him from losing the money.

    The man had been sent a fictitious bill demanding a registration fee for membership on an internet site.

    After receiving the certificate from police station head Masakazu Yamazawa on June 25, Yamada commented, "I'm glad we were able to help," while Arimura reflected, "I was desperate, thinking we definitely had to stop it."

    In areas under the jurisdiction of Iga Police Station, four fraud incidents had been confirmed this year as of June 25, with damages reaching a total of 5.66 million yen (about $51,100). This is an increase of three cases and 3.63 million yen (about $32,800) from the same period last year.

    (Japanese original by Yasuhiro Onishi, Iga Resident Bureau)

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