But don’t worry it’s “not in a real scam.”

Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese name that probably needs no introduction. The ostentatious billionaire founder of clothing site ZOZOTOWN and future moon tourist has now taken up the self-proclaimed role of “Uncle Cash Giveaway” in which he randomly hands out 100,000 yen (US$943) to ten people every day.

As a result, he has amassed over 10 million Twitter followers and a number of copycat accounts eager to prey on those hoping for a quick cash payout. So, it wasn’t totally out of the blue that Mr. Sato was sent a friend request on Facebook by someone calling themselves Yusaku Maezawaa.

The extra A was disconcerting, but that was definitely Uncle Cash Giveaway in the the picture, and Mr. Sato would be remiss not to at least explore this potential fiscal opportunity. So, he accepted the friend request and within moments was sent the following message:

“Congratulations!. You are the lucky one person in 500. This is your serial number: [12-digit number] First registering the reference number, using the screenshot, please send the certificate of registration like in the example below. (Please register correctly)
Registration in my website [URL]

The Japanese used was slightly off…not wrong, but not quite right either. Still, Mr. Sato decided to roll with it and replied “Thank you! Yusaku!”

He quickly received a response:

“Please register in order to receive a gift item out of me. Complete registration and the prize will be sent.”

The Japanese was getting a little stranger, but still not technically incorrect. One thing for sure was that it was lacking the verve Mr. Sato would expect from the real Yusaku Maezawa in such a situation. He decided to continue making certain this was all on the up and up.

Mr. Sato: “Seriously!? For real!? Eh? Is this real? Are you kidding me?”
Mr. Maezawaa: “This is not in a real scam.”

“Ah-hah!” thought Mr. Sato. The real Yusaku Maezawa would never say such a thing, mainly because it didn’t make sense. He knew if he pressed him long enough, this charlatan would crack, but now that he had the upper hand our fearless reporter decided to enter the shady link to see what traps it contained.

Upon clicking the link, he entered a crudely-constructed multilingual page offering a greeting card when you click the button. It was a cunning gambit, knowing that no one can resist the allure of an online greeting card. There are few pleasures in life quite like it.

Mr. Sato clicked to continue and was led to another page with tiled wallpaper of animated GIF fireworks. Clearly whoever designed this site had a passion for graphic design and made our aged reporter a little teary-eyed, thinking back to the early days of the Internet when it was just used for looking up game FAQs and getting pop-up ads. The only thing missing was an access counter.

The page made several amazing claims like “You win $50,000 cash present,” “this gift is free,” and “explain the meaning of the billion-yen otoshidama.” Finally, it warned Mr. Sato that “This gift!! Only for the 500 fastest people to register their names.”

Mr. Sato scrolled down and tapped the “Register now” button.

Suddenly a message appeared: “Your favorite books, magazines and comics for free! Please start reading right away!”

“This is it?!” thought Mr. Sato, “This was the goal of all this? To lead me to an illegal download site of copyrighted material?”

It was certainly not in keeping with the morals of Yusaku Maezawa with one A, and in all honesty a really excessively convoluted method of luring people to a free manga website. There may have been more to it, but Mr. Sato’s colleague and seasoned scam-diver Go Hatori advised against it because signing up would be knowingly engaging in criminal piracy.

Still, we saw enough to know unequivocally that this wasn’t the real Yusaku Maezawa. After all, the real Maezawa can spell his name and has a verified blue check on Twitter, and that’s a mark you can trust…except for that one time a bunch of them got hacked and scammed tens of thousands of dollars from people.

You can mostly trust it.

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[ Read in Japanese ]