Yeah, but when you convert that to dollars… Holy cow!

The post office isn’t normally the place one would look to find cunning capers and high stakes intrigue. Even Japanese post offices that double as banks, seem to somehow drain all the excitement out of sitting on a bunch of money.

Maybe that’s why Taisuke Kawasaki allegedly thought it’d be a perfect place to get his fingers sticky with stamp glue to the tune of 130 million yen (US$1.2 million).

▼ News report on the crime

Kawasaki was a manager at a Japan Post branch in Naka Ward of Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture. There he could easily see that in instances where companies sent a large amount of mail at once, rather than attaching a stamp to each piece, the stamps are simply purchased and then disposed of.

According to the Osaka Prefectural Police, around September of 2017 Kawasaki got the idea to simply keep the stamps for himself rather than tossing them. He would then sell them to what are called “ticket shops,” stores that specialize in the resale of certain items such as transportation tickets, gift certificates, and postage goods.

▼ Some will even copy your keys and VHS tapes for you.

He allegedly did this until June of 2018, cumulatively pocketing roughly 130,000 1,000-yen (US$9.57) stamps that had already been bought, all valued at about 130 million yen. However, since ticket shops would pay below cost for the resale he is said to have taken home about 120 million ($1.1M).

Also, according to NHK, the buyer or buyers were in the far-away prefecture of Saitama and the stamps were sent by Kawasaki from Osaka. This raises the question of whether he was bold enough to have used Japan Post to send them or simply resorted to a courier.

Either way, it would seem that the thrill of reselling stamps blinded Kawasaki to the sheer size of his crime, which allowed it to be detected in an audit of his branch by the National Tax Agency last July. In the ensuing police investigation, Kawasaki is said to have admitted to the embezzlement. He was terminated from his job and criminal charges have been filed.

The Japan Post branch also issued a statement apologizing and promising that it will take measures to prevent such a crime from occurring again. Readers of the news responded to their promise with a unanimous, “Well, yeah… What’s wrong with you?!”

“That’s a messed up system for stamps.”
“This is essentially money, so why is there no system of checking the disposal?”
“Wow, they make 1,000-yen stamps?!”
“This is just the tip of the iceberg, surely.”
“Are stamps even necessary in this day and age?”
“This is probably happening a lot. This guy just got too greedy and got caught.”

Yes, much like the tale of Icarus, who famously made a pair of wings out of stamps. Kawasaki flew too close to the sun, which melted all the glue on the stamps and sent him hurtling back to reality. But at least in his failing, the post office is able to recognize some serious lapses in their own security.

Tragic tales like these are why I always tell my kids to stay in school and stay far away from stamps, no matter how sexy and fun all the rap songs make them out to be.

Sources: NHK News Web, Yomiuri Shimbun, Golden Times
Photos ©SoraNews24
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