The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD) is advising the public to be on the alert against suspicious phone calls from scam artists taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Police reported one caller as saying, “There are subsidies for anti-coronavirus measures available.”

Another caller said, “We can send a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kit to you.” Another scam call offered the elderly, “There is financial assistance available for people aged 65 or older.”

In 2020, the TMPD confirmed a total of 153 such cases. Of these, in two instances, elderly people were bilked out of a total of 28.2 million yen ($264,600).

This year, the TMPD also confirmed scam calls on making vaccination reservations.

In the calls, scammers, pretending to be officials of the Tokyo or central governments, said, “I will make a reservation for a vaccination for you.”

They ask elderly people to send money as security deposits or booking fees, according to the police.

The TMPD confirmed 13 such cases through Feb. 2 this year.

“There is expected to be more scam calls using the pandemic as a pretext,” a TMPD official said. “If you think something is strange, please call the police immediately.”