Police being taunted by an anonymous hacker have found a digital memory card attached to an animal collar after solving a set of emailed riddles from the elusive cyberharasser, reports said Monday.
The discovery was made after recent messages sent to newspapers and broadcasters claimed that details of a computer virus were strapped to a cat on an island near Tokyo. No information was available about the contents of the card.
The development is the latest in a bizarre investigation that has previously seen months of threats made against a number of venues — including a school and a kindergarten attended by grandchildren of Emperor Akihito — from computers around the country.
The National Police Agency was embarrassed after it emerged that officers had extracted “confessions” from four people who had nothing to do with sending the threatening messages.
One of the suspects was detained for several weeks before a broadcaster and a lawyer received another anonymous message containing information that investigators conceded only the hacker could have known.
The four were released as the NPA chief issued a humiliating apology that acknowledged the four had actually been victimized by a hacker who was manipulating their computers by remote control. He promised that the cybercrime unit would improve its ability to solve such crimes.
But a new barrage of messages was sent to media outlets on New Year’s Day.
“This is an invitation to a new game,” the daily Sankei Shimbun quoted the message as saying.
The email offered journalists the “chance for a big scoop” and contained a number of quizzes. The answers to the quizzes point to a mountainside somewhere near Tokyo.
Investigators believe the same person or persons are also behind messages received on Saturday that led detectives to the cat with the mystery memory card.
It is not yet clear what the aim of the messages is, but commentators have speculated the cyberharasser may enjoy toying with investigators and media.