In an incident probably reminiscent of comedy skits, Japan’s police found themselves going after a real cat following a string of clues left by a hacker believed to be responsible for a series of e-mails threatening acts of violence sent to different prefectures last year.
The aforementioned e-mails contained threats to perform acts of massive violence, including attacking a kindergarten attended by the grandchildren of Emperor Akihito. After the police made four false arrests, an anonymous e-mail containing details only the real culprit could have known was sent to media companies and certain lawyers to own up to the threats, claiming that he or she is engaging authorities in a game. Then just before New Year’s day, an e-mail from the same address was once again sent to lawyers and the media, inviting police to a new game and promising media a big scoop. A series of quizzes led authorities to a cat living on an island near Tokyo, whose collar had a memory card containing information about a virus called “iesys.exe” which is believed to have been used to control computers remotely in order to send the threatening e-mails.
The case has frustrated and embarrassed the National Police Agency after prefectural police claimed to have extracted confessions for arrested suspects only to later admit that they were mistaken. The NPA is offering a bounty of $21,000 to catch the hacker, the first time ever that a bounty was made on a cyber crime in Japan. Given this cat-and-mouse chase that had authorities scrambling all over clues only to find a cat in the end, they should have probably enlisted the assistance of Iemon, the country’s first police cat.[ via SecurityWatch ]