Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

Taking on the Banks … and Winning

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

What do you do when a group of Nigerian scam artists defrauds you of thousands of euros, and your bank subsequently accuses you of negligence and refuses to refund you the money? Why, you simply counter-accuse the bank of GROSS negligence, present them with irrefutable evidence and await the refund.

In September 2007, two days into a one-month trip from Tokyo to Moscow, I found myself in Siberia without any money after discovering my credit card had been copied by a group of Nigerians in Tokyo who had maxed it out and defrauded me of circa. €3,500.

My return to Ireland marked the beginning of a tiresome and infuriating battle with the bank in an attempt to get the money refunded to my account. After countless phone calls and numerous letters, I eventually got most of the money back. The following excerpts are from my final five-page letter that demonstrates why you should never mess with a Cavan man and his money …


Further to my comments in the letter dated 6 November 2007, let me enlighten you on credit card fraud scams that have been prevalent in the Roppongi and Shinjuku areas of Tokyo for the past five+ years. It is widely acknowledged that Nigerians, who own and run a number of bars in these areas, have been linked with “padding” credit card bills and committing other credit card crimes. Indeed, credit card fraud is rising fast throughout Asia. No doubt this will be news to your Financial Crime Prevention Unit (FCPU).

[Numerous paragraphs on the particulars of the case followed]

Negligence has, as the FCPU stated, been evident in this case. However, rather than negligence on my part, all such accusations can be pointed directly at [name of bank].

At the end of this letter I have attached a detailed account of transactions and attempted transactions on my credit card account from 9-25 September. The list is quite simply staggering.

I would like to know what sort of a primeval system [name of bank] has in place when the following can occur:

  • 18 transactions/attempted transactions in a two day period (9-10 Sep.) totaling the princely sum of 3,069,600 yen (€18,875.90 at the current exchange rate).
  • One of the aforementioned attempted transactions was for 1,000,000 yen (€6,149.31)
  • Debit information that clearly shows me to be in Tokyo (Japan) on 9 September, Kyoto (Japan) on 10 September, Ulan Bator (Mongolia) on 16 &19 September and Irkutsk (Russia) on 20 September. It then seems that I returned to Japan (and strangely enough to a city, Chiba, that I’ve never even heard of). It appears that I went shopping there on 21 September and completed my sojourn in Toyko later that day. Four days later (25 September) I resurfaced in Novosibirsk (Russia) where I made several attempts to withdraw money but to no avail.

Even the infamous Willy Fog would have had trouble keeping up with the travel itinerary that your records show. But apparently [name of bank] doesn’t have a system in place to spot major irregularities in the levels of activity showing on a customer’s account.

At no stage did [name of bank] attempt to contact me to find out why, over a two day period, €18,875.90 worth of transactions were attempted on a card with a limit of €4,700. Alarm bells should have been ringing from the moment the first debit was made from my account in Club 101, but instead [name of bank] sat idly by as I was defrauded again and again and again – the most recent fraudulent transaction occurring some 12 days after the first.

I don’t believe any other bank in the country has such a shambolic approach to customer care and security. I find it extremely ironic that the “Financial Crime Prevention Unit” is so named. My experience is that [name of bank] has done nothing to protect me and was grossly negligent in failing to spot the severe discrepancies on my account during the period 9-25 September. My credit card statements for the past few years show that all activities on my account during the aforementioned timeframe were totally at odds with the norm.

As an 11 year customer with [name of bank], I have been appalled by the efforts, or lack thereof, of the FCPU to properly investigate my case. It’s certainly easier to tick the “negligent” box and say “case closed”. However, I will not stand for that.

I have been robbed once by ruthless scam artists. Now it seems that [name of bank] would have me robbed a second time and charge me appropriately (via monthly insurance charges) for the pleasure.

The purpose of this letter is to afford [name of bank] a final opportunity to resolve this matter to my satisfaction. Failure to so in a timely manner will leave me with no other choice but to seek retribution through the Financial Services Ombudsman Bureau, the Director of Consumer Affairs or, if need be, my solicitor and the courts thereafter.

I look forward to your response and cooperation in this matter. Please also acknowledge the receipt of this letter at your earliest convenience.

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via Read FREE extracts of the book at

Travelling the World—A Lot Done, More to Do

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

How many countries have you been to? And how many cities? What is your favourite place in the world?

It’s very seldom these days that you meet somebody who doesn’t like travelling. We are remarkably blessed to live in an era where we can travel to the other side of the world in less than 24 hours. Once you have money and time at your disposal, the world really is your oyster.

Anybody who read my comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams, will know that I was already 22 before I went on my first foreign trip. However, I’ve made up for a bit of lost time in the 11 years since then. Although I’ve never taken a year out to go travelling (as seems almost obligatory these days) I do try to get away as much as possible.

I’m also a sucker for statistics and, in researching my travel habits for the work-in-progress Lord of the Rams travel memoir, I’ve realised that I’ve:

  • Been on 44 foreign trips (an average of 4 per year) since 2000
  • Visited 23 countries
  • Visited 57 cities (plus many towns, villages, etc.)
  • Spent more time in London than any other city (43 nights over 17 visits)
  • Spent more time in England than any other country (50 nights over 19 visits)
  • Spent 219 nights outside Ireland, of which I have spent:
    • 127 nights in Europe
    • 36 nights in Asia
    • 33 nights in North America
    • 19 nights in South America
    • 4 nights in the air between continents

But of course travelling isn’t about statistics. It’s about new experiences, people and places.

Over the years, I’ve walked the Great Wall of China, peered into the Grand Canyon, trekked to Macchu Picchu, and rambled around the excavated city of Pompeii.

I’ve bob-sleighed in Sigulda (Latvia), hang-glided over Rio De Janeiro, segwayed around the streets of Copenhagen, gone horse and camel riding in Terelj (Mongolia), sea-fished in Mar Del Plata (Argentina) and Helsingborg (Sweden), rode the Bullet Train in Japan, travelled across great swathes of Siberia by train and retraced the steps of Vlad the Impaler in Transylvania.

I’ve stood atop the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower, walked under the city of Edinburgh, explored caves in Postojna (Slovenia), gambled in Las Vegas, stormed around Graceland in Nashville and treaded silently around Anne Frank’s house (Amsterdam). Museums, palaces, an unhealthy amount of European castles, and an almost endless list of tourist attractions have all been conquered in London, Saarlouis, Saarbrücken, Metz, New York, Manchester, Boston, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Ljubljana, Postojna, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin, Nashville, Memphis, Chicago, Riga, Cesis, Sigulda, Kaunas, Vilnius, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Eindhoven, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Ulan Bator, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Basle, Budapest, Brasov, Sighisoara, Rome, Assisi, Hamburg, Sorrento, Positano, Rio De Janeiro, Lima, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Buenos Aires, Mar Del Plata, Swansea, Cardiff, Bath, Liverpool, Copenhagen, Helsingor, Helsingborg and Malmo.

But travelling isn’t always plain sailing. I’ve been defrauded of thousands of euros by Nigerians in Tokyo, witnessed sickening bouncer violence and police corruption in Cologne, slept outside in sub-zero temperatures in Basle, cracked several of my ribs in Copenhagen and—worst of all—been accused of being American or English on more than a few occasions J But you have to accept the rough with the smooth, or you might as well stay at home.

Right now I’m planning a trip to the east side of Canada this summer. And there’s still a tonne of other places I want to experience: Chile, Bolivia, Columbia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam all come to mind; not to mention the unvisited continents of Africa and Australia! And there’s many places I would love to go back to: Rio, Cusco, New York, Texas, Mongolia, Beijing … the list goes on and on.

London, New York and Boston all featured in colourful detail in Lord of the Rams, and I’ve also posted stories from my time in Las Vegas and Latvia ( i.e. extracts from the work-in-progress follow-up) on this blog. I look forward to sharing more misadventures in the future.

In the meantime, it’s time to get back to planning Trip 45!

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via Read FREE extracts of the book at

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