Photo/IllutrationPolice on March 1 search for evidence at a condominium building in Tokyo’s Koto Ward where an elderly woman was found dead on Feb. 28. (Yosuke Takashima)

Three robbers who have terrorized elderly people in Tokyo are believed responsible for the death of a woman who received a phone call asking if she had cash at her home, police said March 1.

The body of Kuniko Kato, 80, was found at 1:55 p.m. on Feb. 28 in her condominium in Tokyo’s Koto Ward by a care worker who visited for cleaning.

Kato’s hands were bound with plastic ties. Adhesive tape had been wrapped around her ankles and over her mouth, police said.

An autopsy found no conspicuous external injuries, investigators said, adding that the cause of death could not be determined.

Kato lived alone, but a male friend had been with her about three-and-a-half hours before her body was found.

Kato had told an acquaintance in mid-February that she received a telephone call asking her if she kept money in her home, according to investigators.

The case is similar to two robberies in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward that were committed on Jan.11 and Feb. 1.

The victims in the earlier cases had also received phone calls inquiring about cash in their homes. The callers pretended to be the victims’ children, according to police.

In the Jan. 11 case in the Hatsudai district of the ward, three robbers bound a man in his 90s and his wife in her 80s with adhesive tape and took several tens of millions of yen (several hundreds of thousands of dollars) from the home.

In the Feb. 1 case in the Sasazuka district, three men bound and gagged a man in his 80s and his wife in her 70s with plastic ties and adhesive tape. They fled the scene with about 4 million yen of the couple’s money.

In Kato’s case, security camera footage showed three men wearing masks and black hoods entering the condominium building on the first floor around 11 a.m. on Feb. 28 in the Toyo district of Koto Ward.

About 30 minutes later, the three left the building together.

Witnesses told police the three men got in a grayish minicar parked nearby and drove in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

In previously widespread “ore ore” (it’s me) scams, the cons also pretended to be the children of the targets in desperate need of emergency funds. Unlike in the latest cases in Tokyo, the fraudsters usually received the money by bank transfer.