Representational image
Representational image

TOKYO: A police investigation has been launched into a scam as an executive of Japan's NTT Docomo Inc. said that around 18 million yen (170,000 U.S. dollars) had been stolen from bank accounts linked to the mobile carrier's e-money service since August.

According to NTT Docomo, Japan's largest mobile carrier, as of Thursday, 66 cases of suspected fraudulent withdrawals from accounts at 11 banks connected to its e-money service had been confirmed.

"Our measures to check users' identities were insufficient," NTT Docomo Senior Executive Vice President Seiji Maruyama told a press briefing on the matter at the company's Tokyo headquarters.

Following a series of fraudulent cases connected to cashless payments in the past week, NTT Docomo has suspended services allowing customers to connect their bank accounts with its e-money services.

Before cash withdrawals are made, in a bid to ensure that money is not being accessed using fraudulent means, NTT Docomo has said it will consider how to improve and enhance its identification confirmation protocols.

Once users have linked their accounts, NTT Docomo's service offers a number of functions to customers such as transferring money between accounts and paying for shopping.

But its services have fallen foul to fraudsters using stolen bank account numbers and passwords to access accounts linked to NTT Docomo's money service and transfer funds to other mobile accounts.

Although users of e-money can connect with a number of different banks in Japan, the identification protocols differ from bank to bank, sources close to the matter have said.

In some instances, users of e-money and similar applications are only required to provide an email address to confirm their identification, they said.

The fraudsters may have used phishing emails to access other necessary login information, as the banks themselves have said their systems had not been compromised.

The Financial Service Agency has ordered NTT Docomo to report the cause of the situation.

NTT Docomo will also have to inform Japan's financial watchdog of the measures it intends to take to improve its service.

NTT Docomo said it will comply with the order by next Thursday.

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