Crime doesn’t PayPay.
Of the many new electronic payment services that have emerged in Japan in the last few years, PayPay is probably the largest. Having arrived on the scene early with aggressive discount campaigns, and somehow evaded trademark complaints from PayPal, they scooped up a large market share and can now be used to pay for goods and services at most businesses around the country.
However, with such wide usage comes the threat of misuse, as recently happened in an incredibly bold fraud attempt in Misato City, Saitama Prefecture. Restaurant owner Takuya Takahashi was arrested on suspicion of tricking a discount store into thinking he paid for 8,200 yen (US$75) worth of food over several visits in August of last year.
When using PayPay, the customer first scans the store’s QR code with their smartphone app. They then enter an amount of money and tap the “payment” button, this completes the purchase which is confirmed with a little voice saying “PayPay♫”
▼ Video demonstration of the process with the “PayPay♫” sound at the end
When Takahashi was at the checkout, rather than tapping “payment” he instead made his phone play a recording of the “PayPay♫” chime, tricking the cashier into thinking the payment went through. It would seem that the staff wasn’t paying attention to the message on the screen and just cleared it after the audible “PayPay♫” cue was heard.
After some time, the store began to notice that they were coming up short only at the end of days that Takashi had visited. Upon this realization, they reported it to police and an investigation was launched which resulted in his arrest. While in custody, Takashi reportedly admitted to the crime saying that he was dealing with money problems.
As wrong as it is, it’s hard to deny the cleverness and audaciousness that goes into pulling it off. Readers of the news too, while largely condemning the act, had to give credit where credit’s due.
“Oh, that’s freaking funny.”
“That’s pretty clever.”
“It never would have occurred to me to do that.”
“I’m rather impressed with the idea.”
“If he hadn’t kept doing it at the same place, he might have gotten away with it.”
“Didn’t they notice that no receipt came out?”
“Smart but wrong.”
If the comments are anything to go by, it would seem there are many ways Takashi’s scheme should have been discovered, such as a lack of receipt. Possibly because he was a restaurant owner himself, he may have been able to use his own experience to figure out a way to smooth-talk the clerk and circumvent the payment routine to his advantage. Most likely he tried this scheme at a few places before finding one with just the right blind spots for it to succeed, which is why he kept going back there.
These types of payment systems are still relatively new in Japan, so it would seem some businesses need more time to get accustomed to them. It could be argued that automatic tellers are the solution, but even with those, unethical shoppers in Japan have proven themselves to be quite resourceful.