Crimes rates in Japan are incredibly low. So much so that The Irish Times wrote in 2018 that Japan's main crime issue was having too many police and not enough criminals. That tends to mean that when something nefarious happens in Japan, it makes international news fairly easily.
But to be fair, the latest arrest in Japan deserves all the attention it's getting. As Gizomodo reports, Yusuke Taniguchi, a 34-year-old part-time cashier working at a mall in Koto City, Japan, has been arrested by police for stealing the credit card details of customers and using them to fraudulently buy goods online.
But Taniguchi didn't install an easily detectable electronic card skimmer on the store's credit card reader. Local media states that the criminal used his photographic memory to instantly remember the credit card details of his 1,300 victims. All he needed was a quick glance at the customer's card.
There is some debate in local media over whether the 34-year-old has a photographic memory, which allows details to be recalled even months after they're observed, or eidetic memory, which allows people to recall details for only a few seconds or minutes after they're seen. SoraNews24 reports that Taniguchi kept a physical notebook to write down the details, suggesting the latter.
Taniguchi admitted to using the fraudulent credit card information to buy goods that he would later sell at pawn shops. To make the purchases online, Taniguchi would need to remember the 16-digit-number, name, expiry date, and security code, all in the few minutes or even seconds it took to process their purchase.
While all of this may make Taniguchi sound like a genius, the scam was doomed to fail. In addition to the notebook mentioned above, Taniguchi also had all of the goods delivered to his own apartment, further tying him to the fraud. Police tracked a package containing two shoulder bags worth $2,500 to the address, leading to Taniguchi's arrest.
This scam serves as a good reminder that as cautious as you may be when it comes to card skimmers, there's always some risk when it comes to using your debit or credit card. The best way to mitigate any damage is to regularly check your account for suspicious purchases, and if your provider allows, set up security checks for online purchases.
Unsurprisingly, people in Japan were both impressed and disappointed upon learning of the scam. SoraNews24 compiled some of the online comments:
"Wow, there really are people who can do that?”
“He must be the type of person with a memory like a video recording.”
“What a waste of talent.”
Other users added:
“Isn’t there any job where he can use that talent?”
“A photographic memory! It’s an amazing power but should only be used for good.”
“I’ve never met a person like that.”
“He must be a genius.”
We're sure this will probably be a movie soon.
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