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Japanese hacker pulls off epic police prank with confused cat

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A Japanese hacker who's taunted police for months with false trails may have just perpetrated one of the greatest criminal pranks of the Internet age.

After solving a series of emailed riddles, Japanese police were directed to a tiny island somewhere near Tokyo, where they tracked down a cat and confiscated a digital memory card the hacker had strapped to its collar. (Feel free to imagine Yakety Sax playing in the background as the pack of earnest officers stumbles around the island grasping after one very confused cat.)

Japan's powerful National Police Agency—akin to the FBI in the United States—has been on the trail of the hacker for months after the prankster emailed bomb threats against schools across the country, including one attended by the grandchildren of the emperor. Earlier this year, the police admitted they'd erred after forcing "confessions" from four people later proven to have no connection whatsoever to the emails.

Perhaps as a sign of their frustration, the police took the unusual step of issuing a ¥3 million bounty for the hacker (about $34,000). According to Wired, that's the first time police have ever issued a bounty for a cyber crime.

The latest twist came on New Year's Day, when police and journalists received anonymous tips promising "an invitation to a new game" and a "chance for a big scoop."

The memory card supposedly holds information about a virus the hacker uses to control computers across the country and send threats. For some reason, we don't think that's likely.

Photo by isfullofcrap/Flickr