The “It’s me, It’s me” phone scam is a widespread problem in Japan, with many getting swindled out their hard earned cash ever year. This is a true story of a conversation one young man had with a scammer.
Translated by Hamish Smith
* * *
A brief description of my family to help understand the story.
My Home: I have a normal family but we have a odd sized plot of land that we use as a hobby farm (so I can thieve all the vegetables I want).
Mom: She thinks she’s sharp, everyone else thinks she’s absent-minded.
Brother (Tomo): An office worker and the third born son, still lives at home. Doesn’t own a car.
Me: I live alone, but make my way back home any time I need some vegetables.
Dog (Aria): Our beloved dog.
* * *
This all happened on one of the days I had gone back home. My main goal was to get some vegetables. But as soon as my mother, who had just happily turned 60, came back from the farm, the phone rang.
???: “Oh, Mom! It’s me! I’m in trouble!”
Mom: “What? Who? Is that you, Tomo?” (the name of her third son)
???: “Yeah, it’s me Tomo. I’ve just been in an accident… I don’t know what to do…”
Mom: “What! An accident? Are you OK? Oh dear, your brother’s been in an accident!” she’s panicking.
Me: “What? You mean Tomo?” I said as I grabbed the phone, our dog going crazy at my feet.
Mom: “It’s Tomo! Oh dear. I have go and see him right away,” she said as she started pacing back and forth in hopelessness.
Me: “Um… Tomo? Mom’s starting to freak out so she handed me the phone. So you had an accident?”
???: “Huh? Oh, yeah! And you should see the other guy…” he said with a teary voice.
Me: “Have you called an ambulance? Call the police as well. And where was this accident? Mom’s going out to get you now.” I said as Mom grabbed her car keys.
???: “Ah, I’m really far away,” he said, sounding a little frustrated.
Me: “Huh? …(I can tell that something is off. He still lives at home so how exactly would he get into an accident so far away)… Anyway, Chappy (I’m talking about our pet dog, but her real name is Aria) won’t leave me alone so I’m going to put her in her cage. Tomo, just hold the line for a minute.”
‘Tomo’: “Oh? Ah! Just hurry up!!”
Me: “…(OK, now I can see that this guy is a phony. Our dog’s name is Aria, not Chappy) … so, uh, just wait, Tomo.”
‘Tomo’: “I hit a kid in the accident!” his teary voice is really good.
Me: “Ok, ok, you must be panicking. Tomo, just calm down.”
‘Tomo’: “The kid has been taken to hospital, but, but, they said he he’ll never walk again! And it’s all my fault!” Seriously, this guy can act.
Me: “Oh… that’s terrible. And you still haven’t found a proper job yet.” (In reality, my real brother works in an office)
‘Tomo’: “Yeah, I know! That’s why I need to borrow some money from Mom. I’ll pay it all back! I know I made Mom worry, not being able to find a job and everything, but I’ll change. I’ll get myself a real job!!” I could have given him a standing ovation over the phone. Terrific performance.
Me: “I see. I’ll tell Mom to take some money over to you. Where are you?”
‘Tomo’: “Oh, no, I mean, I’m really far away. I need you to make a bank deposit, so…” he’s getting flustered.
Me: “What do you mean? Bro, you don’t live *that* far away from home, do you?” (my brother still lives at home)
‘Tomo’: “I… no, I got into the accident on the way to work, I’m out near work.”
Me: “Work? Your work is right around the corner. Be no more than ten minutes by car. Your work is closer than the bank. Tomo, I know you must be feeling pretty helpless, but just hang tight, we’ll be there soon.”
‘Tomo’: “I… uh…”
Me: “But that is terrible. That kid will never walk again, huh… What kind of accident were you in?”
‘Brother’: “Uh…a car crash.”
Me: “Huh? You didn’t ride your bike to work? You told me that you hate cars.”
‘Brother’: “We-we-well I had to come by car today! And it was the first time in a while, and then, I hit a kid,” his Oscar-worthy tears started up again.
Me: “Really? Your job at the convenience store got you a company car?”
Me: “Don’t clam up, keep talking. Go ahead and tell us what the hell you want us to do,” my tough guy voice.
‘Brother’: “…Sorry!” he hung up and got away.
Me: “And… I win.”
Mom: “What did your brother say? Where do we need to go?” she asked, flustered and clutching her purse.
Me: “It was a scam, mom.”
Me: “I told you already that today is Tomo’s day off and he is having a sleep in.”
I kind of got a little worried that day as I realized how easily mom would fall for a scam.
Mom, you really need to keep your wits about you.
I honestly thought I had saved this home by coming home every now and then.
That mother of mine was most definitely conned by the scammer.
So I’ve started visiting home even more.
To all you playing at home – beware of phone scams.
A few days later…
Tomo (my real brother): “Mornin’! Boy slept like a rock.”
Me: “Tomo, lornin’! (That’s short for Late Mornin’)
Get a load of this. Just before, someone claiming to be my brother called up and said that they had been in an accident and wanted us to wire him some cash.”
Tomo: “Oh? Which brother was it?”
Me: “It was you!”
Tomo: “What? Me?”
Me: “Yeah! But I figured something was wrong so I pull his story apart and then fought back against him!” I said, really proud.
Tomo: “And the recording?”
Tomo: “You have to hit record when you get phone scammers calling up. What did you tell the police?”
Tomo: “Honestly, you just finished up after you outsmarted the scammer and left it at that. Hurry up and call the police.”
I thought my brother would be really proud of me, but instead he was pretty cold. (._.)
http://ncode.syosetu.com/n1357ct/ English translation © 2015 Hamish Smith. All rights reserved.