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The Greatest Bank Heists across Japanese History

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japanese history in bank robbery

In today’s article we will be presenting the history of all the bank robberies in Japan from 1948 to 2018 all the famous 300 million yen robbery to 530 million dollar cryptocurrency robbery.

1.The Fake Cop who Pulled Off one of the Greatest Heists of the Century.

2.How Did Thieves in Japan Steal $13 Million From Convenience-Store ATMs?

3.Robbers Send Thank You Note.

4.1948 robbery-mass murder still far from being solved.

5.World’s biggest ever digital currency ‘theft’.

1.The Fake Cop who Pulled Off one of the Greatest Heists of the Century

300 yen robbery

On December 10, 1968, in Tokyo, It was raining outside. The Nihon Trust bank’s manager was worried. Over the last several months, someone had threatened his and the bank’s employees’ lives. Just four days before, a letter was sent to his home demanding 300 million yen or his house will be blown up with explosives.

The letter was made out of characters ripped out of film magazines and glued together. The police were informed, and they did indeed keep a tight watch on the bank and his house; nevertheless, this did not relieve the bank manager’s worries, which he talked with his branch workers.

Of course, it’s Japan, and work is work, and the show must go on. With this in mind, the bank manager went about his business, dispatching four of his staff to the neighboring Toshiba plant for a planned drop.

robbers bike in japan

A police officer stopped in front of the vehicle and got off his motorbike to warn them. The branch manager’s house had just been blown up, and individuals had been injured and some severely.

Despite police presence in the area, the attacker was able to carry out his threat. But it wasn’t finished yet; more threats were issued. The bank, in particular, was suddenly a target, and branch workers, especially those who had left the bank earlier to perform bank responsibilities and drive clearly marked company cars, were in danger. Their vehicle had to be searched.

The officer went under the car to inspect it, but an employee saw smoke and flames coming from the vehicle before he could do so. Fearing for his life as the vehicle exploded, the cop desperately attempted to roll out of the path. Everyone fled to safety as quickly as they could, fleeing behind the prison walls.

japanese heist

They waited for the explosion for what seemed like a lifetime. However, there was no explosion. When they turned around and saw that the company car had vanished. The police officer had gone. Had he transferred the vehicle to a secure location? They contacted the Nihon Trust bank, puzzled, to find out what was going on. The bank manager responded, much to their relief; he was alive and well.

Everything was OK there; the bank manager’s house was never bombed. As the adrenaline wore off, they realized what had occurred. This was the moment the offender had been planning for months. He had now gotten away with the bonus payments of 523 Toshiba workers while disguised as a police officer; the stolen money totaled 300 million yen or six million dollars, the exact amount he had demanded.

They discovered various things left behind on the ground, including a warning flare that the officer must have lit while beneath the vehicle to simulate explosives. A total of 120 pieces of evidence were claimed to have been left at the crime scene, which is a lot and would usually be helpful, but this was done on purpose to confuse the investigators.

This one was successful. The case is still unresolved more than a half-century later. Some claim this was the greatest robbery in Japanese history; no lives were lost, no blood was spilt, the plot was carefully carried out by a single individual, and the money was eventually stolen; however, there are many ways a bank heist may be great, and many ways it can be remarkable.

2.How Did Thieves in Japan Steal $13 Million From ATMs?

atm heist in japan

Consider the case of May 15, 2016. Early in the morning, at 5:00 a.m., cash was physically taken from an ATM at a Tokyo 7-Eleven. The cash limit was 100,000 yen, or about $880. This may not seem to be a big deal, but imagine doing it 14,000 times throughout Japan in only two hours. Because that is precisely what occurred.

1.4 billion yen (about 13 million dollars) was stolen from ATMs alone, which was not done electronically. It was done in person. Sure, there had to be some kind of big organized group. Still, the astounding number of transactions in two hours made even this appear questionable. In comparison to other notable cases, the largest known recorded number of participants in a single heist, unless they had superpowers, would not have been able to pull this off either; unless they had superpowers. Involving an even larger team would presumably be unwise, as there would be too many chefs in the kitchen.

Police discovered their answer after a lengthy process of reviewing surveillance video from each 7-Eleven shop. Indeed, it was just 7-Elevens that were attacked.

In this instance, the more chefs, the better. It wasn’t a squad of 50, 100, or even 200 people.

It took 600 individuals to carry out a complex, well-coordinated robbery using bogus credit cards. Quite the difference from our previous heist’s single culprit. People have naturally assumed that there must have been connections to a major criminal organization with this many active players.

Despite the numbers, no one has been arrested as of today.

3. Bank Robbers Send Thank You Note

Now for a short one. Kobe. The date was August 7, 1994. Fukutoku Bank was robbed for 540 million yen, a sizable sum, but what makes this tale unusual is that the bank, still suffering from the events, got a letter from the thieves 10 days later. Thank you very much for the bonus, read the letter. We can now live for the rest of our lives on this treasure.

It was a genuine letter of thanks. Yes, we are all aware of the Japanese people’s reputation for politeness, but this took it to a whole new level. So, the last three cases included perfect execution of plans with no loss of life, but this is not the case with the next one.

4.1948 robbery-mass murder still far from being solved

The date was January 26, 1948. In Tokyo, a guy in his forties went into an Imperial Bank branch shortly before closing time. Inside were 16 individuals, including customers and bank employees.

He drew everyone’s attention by explaining that he was a government health inspector dispatched by the US occupying authority. Remember, this was postwar Tokyo, still occupied by the US.

The guy said that there had been a sudden incidence of diarrhoea in the region and that he was to provide vaccinations. In wartime Tokyo, the illness was seen as a genuine danger, so no one questioned him, especially because he was wearing an official government band.

He handed each of the 16 individuals a tablet and a few drops of liquid, which they drank rapidly. It wasn’t long until they collapsed, one by one, in pain. With everyone paralyzed, the so-called health inspector casually walked away with all the money he could locate. Twelve of the sixteen individuals were subsequently confirmed dead, including a small kid.

The fluid they drank contained cyanide. This was a brutal method to carry off a robbery, but what was worse was that the guy left a business card behind; he left it at the scene. The card was marked Shigeru Matsui, presumably from the Department of Disease Prevention, which makes sense given that he was posing as a health office.

Over time, they narrowed this number down to only eight cards and eight suspects, one of them was a Japanese painter called Sadamichi Hirasawa. Hirasawa was questioned and requested to provide Shigeru Matsui’s card, which he should have possessed, but he couldn’t.

He said it was in his wallet, which had been stolen the day before. He had been the victim of pickpocketing. Of course, the cops had a feeling they knew where the card was. He was unable to provide an alibi when questioned. When authorities investigated his background, they discovered four prior instances of bank fraud. When they examined his possessions and discovered money identical to that taken from the bank, Hirasawa strangely refused to reveal how he obtained it.

Finally, when his face was displayed to eyewitnesses, they recognized him as the poisoner right away. Hirasawa admitted after additional questioning. He was caught for the robbery and murders, and when he was sentenced to death by hanging in 1950, he was transported to death row. The case is closed.

visual of giving liquid to bank employees

Or is it?

Because, after the trial, several questioned if Sadamichi Hirasawa was really the culprit. Everything mentioned was based on circumstantial evidence. In reality, his confession was brutally beaten out of him; he was reportedly tortured, and just two of the eyewitnesses recognized him as the culprit.

Maybe he was speaking the truth. Perhaps he was, as he said, a victim of pickpocketing.

Some speculated that the money in his hands came from his side business of painting pornographic images; nevertheless, disclosing this reality to authorities and the public would have damaged his reputation as an artist.

Hirasawa also had no practical means of obtaining the ingredients for what turned out to be a military-grade cyanide solution used in the heist. Some have speculated that the real perpetrator was a former member of the infamous Organization 731, a secret biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that conducted deadly human experiments during WWII.

Hirasawa in court

If this is the case, it would explain why the poison was so easily accessible. Because the Minister of Justice questioned Hirasawa’s innocence, he refused to sign the execution warrant. This was shared by succeeding Justice Ministers. Thus the death sentence was never carried out. So Hirasawa spent the remaining 32 years of his life in jail, on death row.

One of the longest sentences ever served on death row. He died in a jail hospital on May 10, 1987, after getting pneumonia. Regardless of the judgement, the investigation was never really closed. Many people believed that the actual killer, all those years ago, would have been within reach if only the focus had been on the proper person.

5.World's biggest ever digital cryptocurrency 'theft'

Coincheck bank robbery

This tragedy occurred in 1948, yet 70 years later, a new kind of theft would emerge. January 25, 2018. Cybercrime is on the rise in this country. Coincheck, a Tokyo-based exchange and one of Asia’s most famous virtual currency exchanges, fell prey to the largest cryptocurrency theft in history. Hackers disguised as authorized users were able to access the system at 2:57 a.m. by utilizing foreign servers.

They went undetected for the following eight and a half hours, taking 58 billion yen (about $530 million) in the cryptocurrency NEM. They then vanished. This event caused embarrassment for the Japanese government, attempting to establish Tokyo as the worldwide hub for cryptocurrencies. Coincheck admitted to failing to install the necessary additional layer of protection. Still, much worse, the stolen money was stored online in a hot wallet rather than in a far more secure offline storage facility known as a cold wallet.

This is similar to a convenience shop keeping huge sums of money in a cash register rather than an off-site bank vault. One of the strangest aspects of the theft is that the stolen virtual money was traceable online since Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are publicly open. As a result, the $530 million was ultimately tracked down to 11 particular locations. Still, the names of individuals giving and receiving the money remained unknown. Although no one has been arrested as of yet, the creators of NEM were able to mark the 11 addresses with particular warning tags for everyone to see and put up a tracking tool to automatically refuse transactions containing the stolen money.

The most frustrating aspect of all of this is that it could have been prevented if Coincheck had just implemented that additional layer of protection. And it’s not just large corporations; most individuals nowadays are too careless about internet security, using the same password for all of their accounts. If this describes you, congrats; you have terrible habits like mine.

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