In Japan, so-called “Ore-ore sagi -おれおれ詐欺"(It’s me swindle) is rampant. “It’s me swindle” is a fraudulent technique to swindle money from aged people, in most cases loving mothers, by calling them in disguise of their son. They say “Mom, it’s me,” on phone. “I lost a big money today. If I don’t pay it back, I’ll be in jail. Please transfer X amount of money to my bank account xxxx,” and urge the target parent to pay the quoted sum immediately into a suggested bank account.

The total amount of damage by “It’s me swindle" jumped up to ¥48.7 billion (USD 487 million) in 2013 from ¥364 billion (USD 364 million) in 2012 in Japan. The National Police Agency officially named “It’s me swindle” as “Special Fraud” last year, which I think very vague naming.

I heard “It’s me swindles” are observed in U.S. too, and that it’s called “I’m Mike” fraud. Is it true? What do you call this crime in spoken English and in legal term?

  • Impersonation scam – smci Jun 26 '18 at 2:44

In the US it is simply called a grandparent scam. Just saw this on the local news a few weeks ago.

  • A grandparent receives a phone call or sometimes an e-mail from a grandchild. If it is a phone call, it’s often late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking that clearly. Usually, the person claims to be traveling in a foreign country and has gotten into a bad situation, like being arrested for drugs, getting in a car accident, or being mugged and needs money wired ASAP. And the caller doesn’t want his or her parents told.

  • Sometimes, instead of the “grandchild” making the phone call, the criminal pretends to be an arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person. And we’ve also received complaints about the phony grandchild talking first and then handing the phone over to an accomplice to further spin the fake tale.

  • We’ve also seen military families victimized: after perusing a soldier’s social networking site, a con artist will contact the soldier’s grandparents, sometimes claiming that a problem came up during military leave that requires money to address.

  • While it’s commonly called the grandparent scam, criminals may also claim to be a family friend, a niece or nephew, or another family member.

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    Same in Canada. It is sometimes called "emergency scam" also. And it is mentioned as "grandchild scam" in some of the news. – ermanen May 9 '14 at 22:03
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    I agree @ermanen emergency works too but I didn't include it because sometimes the person needing the money in emergency isn't posing as a family member. Often it is a "hospital employee" or something like that but yea it falls in the same umbrella and often the emergencies are family members. – RyeɃreḁd May 9 '14 at 22:07
  • Have anyone heard of “I’m Mike” scam by name? The Asahi, a leading Japanese newspaper reported that “the fraudulent crime targeted at the aged by pretending to be the son of the target victim is prevailing in U.S. too. It’s called “I’m Mike” scam" in the Economy Section of its May 9 issue. Is the word, “I’m Mike” scam really current in U.S. as the Asahi says? – Yoichi Oishi May 11 '14 at 1:07
  • That FBI link is broken, I think you want fbi.gov/news/stories/the-grandparent-scam – smci Jun 27 '18 at 7:16

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