He could have stopped at 500, but he just got greedy.

On 30 September, a 24-year-old man walked into a convenience store in Fuanbashi City, Chiba Prefecture, with a cardboard box full of 120 smartphones. He then asked the clerk to ring up carton after carton of heatsticks and cigarettes using the d-Harai app installed on each phone.

▼ “Heatsticks” are cigarettes modified for use in electronic devices

The entire shopping spree ran from about 5:45am to 6:55am. However, a police officer happened to walk into the store just as he was using his 100th or so phone. At that moment he decided to settle up and tried to discreetly exit the store with his 567 cartons valued at about 3,000,000 yen (US$28,500) and case of smartphones, but failed and was arrested.

As a result, on 14 October the suspect, Vietnamese national Doan Phi Chan, was charged with fraud over the misuse of the d-Harai app. According to the investigation, Doan bought the phones over social media, but before finalizing the sale, requested that each seller install the d-Harai app.

The details of exactly who he was defrauding and how he was going about it aren’t clear. Reporting of the crime is probably being left vague to avoid copycat attempts.

The d-Harai app is the cashless payment system set up by telecom giant Docomo, but has been in the spotlight recently for security vulnerabilities, so he may have stolen funds from previous users or may even have been simply exploiting first-time user discounts by pretending to be other people, then profiting further on the resale of the cigarettes and phones.

It’s hard to imagine him concocting anything remotely resembling a brilliant scheme by himself, however, given how boneheaded the execution of said fraud ultimately was. Readers of the news were also unsure what Doan must have been thinking when he walked into the store with his heavy crate of smartphones.

“Way too conspicuous.”
“That’s the most suspicion-raising way to commit fraud I have ever seen.”
“He might as well have just hung all the smartphones all over his body.”
“I feel like the clerk is complicit in this for not stopping him.”
“Did he want to get arrested?”
“I had no idea one store carried that many cigarettes!”

“Why not just do it one by one at different stores?”
“The store’s staff has got to be in on this too.”
“Seems too convenient the cop walked in at just that moment. I wonder if the clerk hit a silent alarm around the 200th carton.”
“Anytime you see someone walk into a store with a large cardboard box full of smartphones, you can assume a crime has happened or is about to happen.”

According to the ANN report above, Doan admitted that he did it “for the money,” and authorities are currently looking into whether organized crime is involved.

Either way, carelessness is a quality we as a society can always appreciate in criminals, but we should always remain on guard as this is a big step up from trying to buy cigarettes with the currency of the dead.

Source: The Sankei News, TBS News, Chiba Nippo, Itai News
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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