People in Japan tend to put a lot of effort into their personal appearance. Men and women alike have complex grooming routines with a variety of skin and hair care products, and most make sure their clothing is clean and their outfits coordinated when leaving the house.
So perhaps it was due to the country’s high fashion standards that a police officer on patrol took notice of one young man as he was exiting a convenience store in the town of Minanomachi, Saitama Prefecture, on May 16. The man was wearing a suit, but according to the police officer he “didn’t look quite right in it,” and while the officer hasn’t specified what exactly the fashion faux pas was, it was enough to make him stop the 20-year-old man and ask him who he was and what he’d been doing in the convenience store.
That might seem like pretty thin justification, but such stops aren’t so incredibly rare in Japan, and the officer’s intuition turned out to be amazingly accurate, as the man in the suit had just used a credit card he’d stolen from an elderly woman one hour earlier to withdraw 500,000 yen from an ATM inside the convenience store.
Earlier in the day, an 87-year-old woman living in Minanomachi had received multiple phone calls from men claiming to be local government and banking officials. They’d told her that because her ATM card was too old, her pension payments couldn’t be completed, and that they’d be sending someone to collect her card so that they could process it and issue her a new one at a later date. The part about her ATM card being too old was a lie, but the woman fell for it, and the man who came to collect her card was the same didn’t-look-good-in-a-suit guy that the police officer later picked up with a thick stack of the woman’s money.
At first the whole thing sounds like an amazing stroke of luck, but there could actually be a bit of practical logic behind it. Scam artistry isn’t a job that requires you to wear a suit most of the time, and wearing clothing you’re not used to tends to affect your body language and make you stand out in a crowd, which in this case ended up being the first step in the officer realizing the man had been pretending to be someone he really wasn’t.
The man has been placed under arrest and admitted to the charges, though at least one other man was involved in the scam and remains at large. Hopefully, the incident will serve as a reminder to people that when there’s a problem with your ATM card, the bank will have you come to one of its branches to rectify it. They won’t send someone to your house to pick it up.
Source: Saitama Shimbun via Jin
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