For years now, Japan has been beset by cases of ore ore sagi (“hey-it’s-me” scam). This is where the scammer contacts a (usually elderly) person claiming to be or know their child or relative. They then explain that they need money for an emergency and provide an account for the victim to transfer their money to, which sadly they often do.

These perpetrators can be difficult to catch, but sometimes a person’s force of habit can help make the police’s job that much easier. Take the case of one suspect named Akio Kanazawa, for example.

In October 2012, Kanazawa allegedly visited the home of a 74-year-old woman while posing as an employee of a law firm. Telling the woman that her eldest son was in urgent need of money, he reportedly attempted to get four million yen ($38,700) out of her.

Afterwards, the woman reported him to police. A subsequent investigation led them to believe Kanazawa was the chief suspect. However, they didn’t know the 58-year-old’s occupation or address, and so the warrant for his arrest remained active for the following 15 months.

Then, on the afternoon of 12 January of this year, Kanazawa entered the Samezu Driver’s Examination Bureau in Shinagawa, Tokyo. His driver’s license was about to expire and, not wanting to get in trouble with the law, he went to get it renewed.

At this point, it should be noted that Kanazawa – also the name of a city in Japan – is a rather unique name. It’s not strange enough to raise eyebrows or prompt laughter, but it kind of sticks out, just as if he were an American named Joe Seattle. So, when the Driver’s Examination staff saw the man’s name, they could easily harken back to the warrant that had been put out for his arrest.

Now knowing where Kanazawa lived and whether he required corrective lenses, police moved in and arrested the suspect. According to the authorities, he has denied the charges.

Netizens in Japan responded to the news claiming the suspect to be “remarkably idiotic.” However, the facts that Kanazawa was not convicted, denies the charges, and has a unique name does open the door to the possibility of this being a case of mistaken identity. Whichever scenario you believe rests largely in your faith in the limits of human stupidity.

Source: Chunichi Web via Hachima Kiko (Japanese)
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