Scams Season 1 Episode 1 Recap
Published 3 weeks ago
A message is shown at the beginning: Since 2003, a special type of scam targeting the elderly called the money transfer scam has proliferated in Japan. Financial damages increased every year, reaching 56.5 billion yen in 2014. Now, in 2019, scammers have changed their techniques, and the damage continues.
April 2009 — five men wearing corporate attire look like they’re planning something serious. Then, one of them removes his suit and starts running in place until he runs out of breath. Another man places a cassette player on the table and plays some background noise. Then the man who has taken off his suit gets his phone and calls somebody. “Mom! It’s me, Kensuke!” he says, crying. Then another man takes the phone and tells the woman her son has touched his daughter. He threatens the mother that he will tell the world about it. Then they hand the phone to another man who pretends to be a policeman handling the case. They tell the woman they will send someone to her house if she agrees to settle it. The woman agrees, so they end the call and celebrate. They call it a classic three-person scam called the “station cop.”
A young man named Makoto Kusano tries to withdraw money from an ATM. But the machine says he can’t use his card. Realizing he no longer has money, he asks his friend for help. He meets up with his friends to eat at a restaurant. Then his friend, Shotaro, laughs at him because they all thought Makoto would be successful. After all, he finished college. Makoto expresses how difficult it is for him to pay all his debts. Shotaro says there’s a part-time gig that pays 300,000 yen for two or three hours. One of their friends, Misaki, expresses doubt about the said job. Makoto receives a call from his mother, so he immediately goes to the hospital.
“Your father has developed cancer in his eye,” the doctor says. The doctor mentions a new cutting-edge treatment that does not damage the eye. Unfortunately, it is not covered by insurance. “Then why do we even pay our taxes? Why does insurance cover some diseases and not others? We pay taxes because we want to be taken care of,” Makoto says. But the doctor says rules are rules, so he can’t do anything about it. When they get home, his mother, Sachiko, shows him a mail. It’s a payment reminder for Makoto’s student loans. The next day, Makoto attends an interview at a big company. The interviewer tells him the starting salary is 120,000 yen. “Everyone works late, and no one has the time to teach others how to do things,” he adds. Then he turns to Makoto and says they are done talking.
Realizing there is nothing else he can do, Makoto joins Shotaro at the gig he’s talking about. A man named Yamada hands each of them a bag. “That’s right, we’re doing the money transfer scam,” Shotaro says. Makoto tries to back out. “This is a serious crime,” Makoto says. But Shotaro tells him Yamada will kill him if he backs out. “All we have to do is follow orders and withdraw the money. The real criminals are the people at the top. We won’t get caught, I promise,” Shotaro says.
Makoto goes inside a convenience store. He walks to the ATM and dials the numbers written on the back of the card. When the screen shows it’s the wrong pin, Makoto looks frightened. He tries different numbers just to get the money. A policeman walks into the store, and for a second, Makoto thinks he’ll get caught. Luckily, the policeman is just there to buy some things. Makoto keeps seeing posters warning people about scams. When he finally gets the pin right, he takes the money and puts it in the bag. When he walks out of the store, he hears another policeman talking on the radio about a scam. He follows the policeman with his eyes and sees that Shotaro is the person they’re talking about.
As the police chase Shotaro, Makoto runs to Yamada to ask for help. Yamada tells him to get in the car. Makoto pulls Yamada out of the car and gets into the driver’s seat. He drives as fast as he can to get to Shotaro. Shotaro gets in the car. The police didn’t catch them because they are only running. Shotaro looks happy, so he shows the bag of money to Makoto. Because Makoto gets distracted, he can’t see the road and gets into an accident. When Makoto opens his eyes, he realizes he’s tied up to the hook of a crane truck. Yamada tells him Shotaro ran off with the money. “I’ll do anything you want!” Makoto begs. Yamada says some people have taken an interest in Makoto. “You’ll be scamming old people over the phone,” Yamada says. “If you run, you’re dead,” he adds.
The next day, Makoto goes to the address given to him. When he gets into the office, he sees all kinds of people: men and women, some wearing casual clothes, while some are wearing corporate attire. A man named Dokugawa tells them that during the ten-day training, they are all going to witness hell.
What frustrates Makoto the most: he thought he would live a good life because he finished college. But it’s difficult for him to find a job. His family needs money, so he feels trapped. But we don’t think he should steal from other people. His family would not be happy if they discovered that he’s stealing people’s hard-earned money. Is there really no other way for him to earn? But maybe he was looking for an easy way to make a lot of money in a short time.
The first scene already showed him doing the scam over the phone. So we think he really gave in even if he knew it was illegal. Maybe we’re supposed to take his side because he is the main character here, but we hope he gets caught. We just want to know what will happen next if he gets caught. Will he stop scamming people? Or will he go back to it? We also want to see how he will face his family if they find out what Makoto is doing.