We’ve all heard stories of daring robberies like that of D.B. Cooper, and in a way are almost swept away by the romantic anarchy of them. But there’s another end to that spectrum as well: the capers that, despite their size, are so mundane that getting a job at a cracker factory would be wild in comparison.
Case in point is the arrest of 29-year-old Daigo Sugano for attempting to cheat one of Japan’s largest shopping center chains, Aeon, out of roughly 5,380,000 yen (US$47,000) in loyalty points.
Using the Aeon app, people can receive two yen ($0.02) worth of points simply by setting foot in one of the company’s many malls and department stores. Under this program, Sugano stands accused of pretending to have entered an Aeon establishment nearly 2.7 million times.
Time constraints aside, the likelihood of Sugano actually accomplishing this is next to zero as all of the stores he “went to” were on the southern island of Kyushu, clear across the country from his home in the northernmost island of Hokkaido.
He reportedly did this by faking the GPS data on his computers to appear as if he entered an Aeon when he really didn’t. The large numbers were achieved with the help of 45 laptops and about 1,000 accounts.
After allegedly having successfully stolen points amounting to 140 yen ($1.23) he appeared to have gone for one big score. And despite his efforts to spread the wealth among fake accounts, the rapidly increasing number of visits was still enough to raise a flag at Aeon who reported the anomaly to the police.
At this point you might suspect Sugano had some ultimate goal with his significant sum of cash – perhaps funneling it to an offshore account and then moving to the freedom of a tropical island. Or could there have been an urgent need like a sick relative with expensive medical bills?
“I was going to use the points for shopping,” Sugano reportedly told police while admitting to the charges of fraud and attempted fraud filed against him. Readers of the news online were less than sympathetic for the accused, especially as he was reported to be “unemployed” at the time of the arrest.
“Isn’t it easier to just get a job?”
“2,700,000 times?! Hahaha!”
“I think he should have thought that through some more.”
“Isn’t falsifying your GPS data a crime too?”
“But he had the means to get 45 laptops?”
“That was kind of clever…but 2.7 million was a little much.”
“What a complete waste of effort, time, and intelligence.”
“Even if he went to Aeon 100 times everyday it would take 74 years to do what he said.”
“45 computers, eh? I wonder if he actually did have a job for a company that begins with ‘Ya’ and ends in ‘Za’?”
The investigation is still ongoing, but it at least seems as if the police have found their man. And with a conviction, another criminal’s dream of hitting the big-time will have gone up in smoke.
There are those who use point programs like Aeon’s to their fullest and earn a nice, legally-acquired chunk of change because of it. However, let this case be a reminder to those who are handed a stamp card at a sandwich shop and think that’s their ticket to ill-gotten riches. It just isn’t worth it.