FUKUOKA (TR) – In February, Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested a 52-year-old man who is suspected of swindling dozens of restaurants by making false claims about cleanliness.
Police said that Taro Takeuchi falsely told the proprietors of restaurants across Japan that his “pants became dirty” from tables at their establishments. He then defrauded the proprietors by negotiating compensation.
“Since July, 2018, I have done this more than 100 times nationwide,” Takeuchi told police upon his arrest.
It appears that he was not alone. According to Fuji News Network (Apr. 12), a couple is carrying out a very similar scam — one that dates back several years.
On March 9, a man and a woman entered a restaurant in Yahatanishi Ward of Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture for lunch.
After she placed her bag on a chair, the man shouted to a female staff member, “Excuse me, but her bag is dirty.”
According to the staff member, the man appeared to be in his 50s, the woman in her 40s. “The bag was pink, and woven in a rattan pattern,” the staff member said. “The bottom was stained in black grease.”
About the chair, the staff member added, “I couldn’t see any dirt, but it felt a little wet, so it probably had been wiped with a towel.”
The woman informed the staff member that the bag was important, having been bought for 57,000 yen as a wedding anniversary present. They then requested compensation for cleaning.
Sensing a scam was unfolding, the staff member declined to pay compensation. She instead told the couple that the restaurant has insurance.
According to the employee, the uttering of the word “insurance” caused the couple to quickly flee the restaurant.
“Please show good faith”
By Fuji News Network’s tally, the pair, dubbed the “fraud couple,” is believed to have pulled the same ruse at restaurants in Kitakyushu’s Yahatahigashi and Kokurakita wards and Fukuoka City’s Chuo Ward since February.
“Please show good faith,” they would request management of the establishments. Some handed over thousands of yen in compensation.
Based on the network’s research, the couple has moved to Kyushu from Honshu. On February 3, they pulled the scam at a hotel in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Four days before that it was at a restaurant in Yamaguchi City.
“It’s a unique bag”
The first sign of the fraud can be traced back to 2014 in Ise City, Mie Prefecture. Two years later, it emerged again in Hyogo Prefecture’s Kobe and Nishinomiya cities.
In 2017, a proprietor in Kyoto City paid 160,000 yen. The following year, the same couple is believed to have ventured into establishments in Nara and Wakayama prefectures.
The proprietor in Wakayama paid 20,000 yen. “There is only one in the world because it was order-made for my honeymoon,” the proprietor was told. “It’s a unique bag.”
“There’s no doubt that’s the guy”
Thereafter, the couple seems to have moved to a yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant in Tatsuno City, Hyogo Prefecture. While at the register, the pair was captured on security camera footage.
In the footage, the man is wearing a dark suit and spectacles. Meanwhile, the woman, also wearing glasses, is holding a bag and a towel.
When that footage was presented to the persons from the establishments in Shimonoseki and Yamaguchi cities and Yahatanishi Ward, Kitakyushu, they all concurred: The persons in the clip were one and the same.
“There’s no doubt that’s the guy,” said a representative from the hotel in Shimonoseki.
Fuji News Network hopes that the couple’s crime spree will come to an end sooner rather than later.