The long arm of the Poké-law shuts down startlingly high-markup scheme.

For the first few years of a child’s life, their parents are pretty much their entire social circle. But before long they grow up and start spending more and more time with the friends they make at school and work, usually because they share more common interests.

So it’s almost heartwarming to hear about an adult man in Kyoto who took up a new activity last year, and has been sharing the experience with his mom, who’s also been active in the project. Almost heartwarming, because the purpose of their teamwork was to sell counterfeit Pokémon merchandise.

On September 10, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Ikegami Precinct announced that they are filing charges against a 23-year-old male office worker from Kyoto and his mother, a 49-year-old part-time worker and resident of Miki City, Hyogo Prefecture. Since last fall, the pair have been importing knockoff Pokémon trading card game playmats from China and reselling them on e-commerce sites to customers in Japan.

As is often the case in Japan, the public display of seized evidence was neatly arranged, giving it the feeling more of an otaku’s in-home character shrine than proof of criminal activity.

The mother-and-son team divided up the labor for their operation, with the son in charge of purchasing the knockoff goods and Mom handling shipping to customers in Japan. They paid about 700 yen (US$6.60) for each mat, and resold them for roughly 3,000 yen a piece.

▼ Some might argue that markup alone is practically criminal, since you can get officially licensed Pokémon card game play mats like this one directly from the official Pokémon Center Online shop for 2,750 yen.

The pair managed to earn roughly two million yen (US$18,870) in less than a year of running the scheme. The involvement of the Ikegami Precinct, located in Tokyo’s Ota-ku, the same ward where Haneda Airport is located, could indicate that an interception of an incoming cargo shipment from China is what led to the investigation that foiled the illicit enterprise.

The two have admitted to the charges, with the son explaining his motivation as “I did it to make money” and the mother with “I did I because I wanted my son to make money,” which is almost sweet of her. Again, almost.

Sources: Kyodo via Hachima Kiko, Tele Asa News/Yahoo! News Japan
Top image: SoraNews24/Pakutaso
Insert image: Pokémon Center Online
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