Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Furikome Sagi: The Superbly Executed Telephone Crime
"Furikome Sagi" is Japanese for the crime of impersonating someone on the phone in order to rob the person called, of money.
At their state of the art recording studio, the Kawaguchi Gumi branch of the yakuza (Japanese mafia), have a meeting and talk about how they will pull off this latest furikome sagi crime. Toshino kicks back in his chair. Piece of cake he thinks. He`s been doing this kind of crime for five years now. He`s a veteran. He can`t count how much money he has earned for his yakuza branch, indeed his boss is very proud of him.
It was Toshino who broached the topic with the boss of getting high tech recording equipment. "It will pay for itself in the long run," he pleaded. "We will make the money back with two calls!" "Boss the initial impression is paramount when making the call to the parents. Those sounds, that miserable sobbing, that is what gets us 90% to the bank. Have I ever let you down before?"
The equipment was purchased and Toshino`s monthly proceeds had increased 50%. A new sports car from the boss followed. Crime does pay Toshino decided.
The wheels were set in motion. Aoki, one of Toshino`s colleagues repeatedly calls Hiroyuki Yoshida. "Moshi, moshi."(Hello) "Do you wanna suck my cock!!?" Aoki screams into the receiver. After the fifth call to *Hiroyuki, Hiroyuki turns off his cell phone.
Aoki calls every few minutes just to be sure that Hiroyuki Yoshida`s cell phone stays off. They can`t have him answering his phone. It will destroy the operation; and the boss doesn`t tolerate many failures.
Yoshida is needed to unwittingly play his part in the drama the Kawaguchi Gumi are enacting. Most people switch off their phones after about five calls the yakuza have discovered. Things are working perfectly. Almost as perfectly as Toshino`s brand new cherry red Fairlady Z.
It`s 4 PM. Tonegawa picks up the phone and dials Hiroyuki`s 45 year old mother. It`s Friday, a workday for both Hiroyuki and his father. So they are out. Only the mother is home. The Yakuza like it better when only one parent is home to receive the call. They can`t think as clearly on their own. There is no one to confer with. Like an isolated wildebeest, the lions will make their kill.
These Yakuza know that Hiroyuki`s mother is always home at 4PM on Fridays. They`ve been watching her. Their eyes for the past month has been what most in the neighbourhood have assumed was a pizza delivery boy, but who actually is a "chimpira" or low level yakuza. Atsuko comes home after tea ceremony at about 3:30PM. Most people are as predictable as Atsuko Yoshida.
The phone rings. Mrs. Yoshida answers it. She can hear sirens in the background, crying, traffic noise, and was that a scream? It sounds like there has been an accident!
"Am I speaking to Mrs. Yoshida?" asks Tonegawa very officially.
"Your son has been in a terrible accident."
"Is he okay?"
"Yes he is, it is the gentleman he hit who isn`t. He`s dead. A father of three. I don`t know what we are going to tell his wife. What a tragedy."
"Oh my, that`s terrible."
"Yes it is. Your son was driving recklessly. I`m afraid we are going to have to arrest him on the spot. I`m very sorry to have to tell you this, but Hiroyuki must go to traffic prison immediately."
"Well Mrs. Yoshida because of the magnitude of what he has done. I`m happy to have caught you at home, Hiroyuki said you would be back from tea ceremony by now."
"I`d like to speak with my son."
"I can put him on if you`d like?"
"No that`s okay, I`ll call his cell phone number."
"Okay I`ll call you back in a few minutes,"
Tonegawa says. Atsuko Yoshida in a gut wrenching panic calls her only son, but his cell phone is still turned off. Tonegawa calls back.
"Mrs. Yoshida, did you talk with your son?"
"No I couldn`t get through. His cell phone appears to be turned off or something. Is he there? Can I speak to him please?"
"Yes of course." (Aoki one of the best "actors" in the Kawaguchi Gumi comes on the phone) Wailing, he can`t even speak he is so upset. Mrs. Yoshida tries to comfort who she thinks is her son but he continues to cry. Tonegawa comes back on the phone.
"As you can hear Mrs. Yoshida, he is extremely upset. I`m sure you can understand."
"Doesn`t he at least get a trial, he is only 23."
"No he doesn`t in this case. A man is dead, a father of three. Hiroyuki has admitted that he was speeding, it really is cut and dry Mrs. Yoshida. There is one thing though. Governor Ishihara in a special motion last month, granted leniency in cases such as your son`s."
"What is that exactly?"
"Well you can get a waiver by making a payment of 2 million yen, but it has to be agreed to while your son is still at the crime scene. This will get Hiroyuki off on probation, but he will lose his licence for one year. In order to do this, and get the paperwork processed, we would have to act fast. Oh look at the time, it`s 4:05, the office stops processing paperwork at 4:15. "
Yes of course. What should I do?"
"You must go to the bank now, and transfer the money to account....."
Mrs. Yoshida did as she was told. She sent the money by express. She was very surprised when Hiroyuki came home from work at the usual time; and complained as soon as he had gotten in the door, about some jerk calling him at work and screaming very rude things into the phone.
"I shut if off after the fifth call."
Atsuko Yoshida started to cry.
Afterword: This story was based on a lecture given by the Matsuda Police of Kanagawa Prefecture. In the lecture the police detective attempted to describe how intelligent people can be duped by a crime like this. It happens all the time he stated and the criminals are very professional. By knowing how it is done, he felt that perhaps we could avoid being victimized. My wife attended the lecture then told me all about it.
*First names are rarely used in Japan. To make this story more understandable, the name of Hiroyuki was used. In an actual furikome sagi call probably "Uchi no musuko" or some phrase like that would be used. Uchi no musuko means literally "your home`s son," or "the son of your house." In plain English: "your son."
by Kevin Burns