Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Japanese High Profile Cyber-Criminal was Arrested

The most high-profiled cyber-crime in Japan last year was the "fake" blackmail case, which framed many innocent people. Several people were arrested by the police for sending threatening emails. One assistant director of animation films was not only arrested but also accused of sending an email threatening a massive killing. Before conviction, however, it was revealed that these emails were sent by a special computer virus. All those arrested were released and the prosecutor revoked the accusation to the assistant director.

What is important for the virus writer was that he (or maybe she) sent announcement emails to the mass media, claiming that the Japanese police were incompetent and couldn't tackle with cyber-crime. Also, the perpetrator even sent a puzzle to the police, saying that if the police could solve it, they would get a clue of the suspect. The police solved the puzzle and went to the designated place where they found a cat with a choker ring on which an SD card was attached. These scenes have been broadcasted by the media again and again and the Japanese people were horrified by the unknown and terrible computer virus.

On February 10, the police announced that they had arrested a 30 year old man in Tokyo as the suspect of the cyber-crime.
According to the media, the clue was on the SD card. The message on the card said: "My life was ruined by the false charge." The police claims that the arrested person had actually been convicted of sending a threatening message regarding the conflict between the users of a bulletin board, called "2ch", and Japanese major record company, Avex, about unlicensed usage by Avex of a character loved by 2ch users called "Mona."

As the arrested seems to be claiming his innocence, it is not clear at this stage whether he is the real cyber-criminal. However, what I found most important regarding this case is that the Japanese police forced many people to make false confessions during the interview. Most of the arrested framed by the virus writer eventually "confessed" to sending threatening emails. However, this was not true. The reason they confessed was because of the police's strong pressure during the interview. Although I admit the unique nature of Japanese criminal law which makes confessions important (such as the emphasis on the state of a criminal's mind), I think that the lesson of this case for the police is to reflect on themselves and refrain from applying too much pressure during an interview.

DISCLAIMER: "IT Law issues in Japan" only provides general information about Japanese information technology law and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. You should first obtain the advice of professional legal counsel who is qualified in Japan before acting or refraining from acting based on this blog.

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