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Japan student held for making Puzzle & Dragons hack

Puzzle & Dragons is produced by GungHo Online Entertainment
Puzzle & Dragons is produced by GungHo Online Entertainment

KANAGAWA (TR) – A man was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly creating and distributing cheat software for popular smartphone game Puzzle & Dragons.

The cybercrime unit of the Kanagawa Prefectural Police arrested Yoshihiro Wakazono, a 21-year-old third-year university student from Hiroshima City, on suspicion of violating copyright law by releasing online a program to hack popular smartphone game Puzzle & Dragons, the Mainichi Shimbun reports (June 15).

Wakazono admitted to the charges, telling police he wanted to show off his skills.

The Asahi Shimbun reported that Wakazono is the first to be arrested in Japan for creating Puzzle & Dragons cheat software.

According to authorities, Wakazono’s cheat software available for free online was downloaded over 400,000 times.

Wakazono allegedly coded a cheat program at home that allows users to make their Puzzle & Dragon characters invincible and released it on his website for public download last year on June 27.

That same month in June, authorities arrested another male suspect on copyright violation charges for selling cheat software through an online auction.

According to police, Wakazono rewrote his program whenever anti-cheating updates were released by GungHo Online Entertainment, the game app’s developer, for a total of 33 times, according to Jiji Press.

GungHo said tools to work around the company’s updates have also spread online, and claimed they’re being used by junior and high school students.

“We take pride in making games that can be enjoyed as they are,” a GungHo company spokesperson said. “Ideally, we’d like people to play our games for a long time.”

“Please never do so”

In a statement released online on Wednesday, GungHo said Wakazono was arrested for “violation of copyright law” by creating and digitally distributing a tool that illegally decrypts game data, letting users “freely manipulate their monsters’ stats and easily clear difficult dungeons.”

“Our company is monitoring for any acts that violate our terms and conditions, including unauthorized play of our games and actions that spread such conduct,” GungHo said in the statement. “Whenever we detect such conduct, we have strict measures in place such as shutting down the game accounts in question.”

“Playing our games in such illegal ways…has consequences in the real world, such as violating copyright law, so please never do so.”

GungHo’s statement went on to urge users to report any suspicious behavior to management.

Relentless tide of hackers

Cheating software is becoming more common, according to the Mainichi, particularly in online auctions and social networking services. So-called “cheating agencies” are also on the rise, where customers can pay cash for hacks.

GungHo established a dedicated anti-cheat team to combat illegal conduct, but the efforts appear ineffective in stemming the relentless tide of hackers decoding their encryption methods.

Convicting users who make cheat tools is difficult based on that act alone. Authorities have therefore used a variety of legal means at their disposal, including charges based on violations of laws like copyright law and the Unfair Competition Prevention Law.

“Users should be aware that [the use of illegal tools] constitutes a criminal act that we can crack down on,” a law enforcement source said. “Cheat tools are also dangerous in the sense that they can steal your personal info and money.”