Tokyo police have arrested two men on suspicion of hacking into online bank accounts and stealing $136,000, according to a report in Japanese newspaper Asahi.
Former computer software developer Ko Hakata, 35, and Goro Nakahashi, a 27-year-old businessman, have been detained by police for allegedly illegally accessing information on the Internet and stealing the money at an Internet cafe in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward last September.
Police said the pair had installed 'key catcher' software to detect the key strokes of previous users in about 100 computers at 13 Internet cafes in Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ueno since 2001.
They then used the captured data to illegally access five online accounts, allege the police, transferring a total of $141,000 to another account set up under a fictitious name. Using an alias, Nakahashi allegedly withdrew $136,000, police said.
The newspaper cited police sources saying the pair are thought to have robbed accounts at Citibank Japan.
Police believe the break-ins may just be the tip of the iceberg. By the time that they were detained, the men had downloaded the identification numbers or passwords of 719 people in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.
Online banking was introduced in Japan in 1997. There were 7.5 million Web-banking customers in Japan last year according to the Centre for Financial Industry Information Systems in Tokyo.