A pet betta fish, swimming in solitude inside its aquarium, is indeed harmless. But if the aquatic, gill-bearing animal is wired to a computer and the internet, things can be different.
And this happened in Japan.
A YouTuber, known as Mutekimaru, operates a channel that is popular among the gaming community, thanks to how it features fishes that can 'play' video games.
To make this happen, Mutekimaru installed sophisticated, custom-made motion detection tracking contraption to his tanks. This allows the fish to remotely control a Nintendo Switch console.
But at one time, one of Mutekimaru's pet fishes was left 'playing' Pokémon Scarlet and Violet unassisted, when it managed to log on to his Nintendo Switch store, and changed his avatar while at it, and then made a credit card purchase.
All that was done on livestreamed.
The entire heist began as an experiment.
Mutekimaru wanted to know how long it would take his pet fish to complete Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. To do this, the Japanese YouTuber set up a webcam which focused on his fish bowl, which has been equipped with motion-tracking software.
As the fish swam inside the aquarium, the movement of the fish is recorded by the overlaid grid, which in turn translates into movement to controller inputs.
So if a fish paused or changed direction, the correlating controller input is registered in the game.
Mutekimaru had done this experiment before.
Back in 2020, he pet fish successfully completed Pokémon Sapphire in about 3,195 hours. In comparison, an actively playing human could do in around 30 hours.
Knowing the possible lengthy duration, Mutekimaru simply left his fish doing its thing.
But it didn't take long, or about seven hours, before the fish managed to defraud him.
Not only that, because the fish also doxxed its owner.
This happened when it sent ¥500 to Mutekimaru’s Switch account from his credit card during the livestream, which apparently exposed his credit card details in the process.
All of this was possible because Mutekimaru saved both his password and his credit card information.
Because of this, all the fish needed to do, was to make button presses and putting the cursor at the right spot.
But the thing is, between putting a yen sign and creating the purchase, it almost feels like the fish were doing all this on purpose.
It was only after that, that the fish crashed the game.
And after an error message is confirmed, the Switch device jumped back to the home screen.
This is not uncommon, given that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet has been riddled with performance issues.
After that, and just like before, the fish carried on swimming, like what it tends to do.
Mutekimaru only realized this when he returned.
At this point, Mutekimaru also realized that the livestream has garnered thousands of comments, as they all watched the unintended takeover being livestreamed on the channel.
The incident has also went viral on Twitter, where thousands of Japanese users shared their amusement.
— むてきまるちゃんねる -Mutekimaru Channel- (@Mutekimaru_ch) January 15, 2023
Being defrauded by a fish is not the best thing that can happen to a content creator, especially on a livestream. But still, it's also not the worse.
Because of this, Mutekimaru has taken it all in good humor.
Mutekimaru later said that he had contacted Nintendo to explain what happened, and asked for a refund.
Hilariously enough, Nintendo granted the request.
Mutekimaru’s channel was originally created during the COVID-19 pandemic, where people were urged to remain indoors and stay away from public venues.
Many of Mutekimaru's streams are essentially webcam recording things most of the day, with the fish being rotated every 12 hours “for health reasons”.
Among the fishes featured on Mutekimaru's channel, include Maurice, Moo, Ponyo and Lala.