Japanese banks jam cell phones to prevent fraud

Back in October, Japan suffered a spate of swindles executed by cell phone: con artists convince someone that their young son is in trouble and needs money. The banks got wise and started questioning elderly folk making large withdrawals. The con artists got wiser, and started directing the elderly victims to use ATM machines. The cops started patrolling ATMs, but that didn’t seem to work.

Now, banks are installing cell phone jamming equipment to block cell calls at the ATMs themselves. The theory, apparently, is that this will prevent victims from following the con artists’ final instructions. The jammers only block signal up to a meter or two away, so folks standing in line can still chat away about how awesome their tuttuki bako is.

I’ve got to wonder how effective this strategy is going to be. If the con artists convinced someone to get up and go to the bank, do you think they victims will say “Hey, the call just dropped. Thanks, Chiba Bank, for preventing this fraud!” Or do you think they’ll panic at the thought of not buying freedom for their endangered son?