Con Artist Scams His Way Into Elite Japanese Sushi Club With Wallet of Fake Cash

·3-min read
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images

TOKYO, Japan—If you’re going to enjoy a night on the town, the company of beautiful women, and a delicious meal before going back to prison, you might as well go for the top-of-the line champagne and don’t forget the sushi. This week, the Fukuoka Police in southwest Japan arrested a 39-year-old unemployed man, Koichi Eguchi, on charges of fraud after he attempted to slip out on an expensive cabaret club without paying his 1.1 million yen ($10,300) bill. It was the second time Eguchi bit off more than he could chew at an expensive nightclub.

According to local media and the Fukuoka Prefectural Police, around 9 p.m. on April 11, Eguchi visited a cabaret club—think Mad Men-era Playboy Club without the rabbit ears—in the Nakasu entertainment district of Fukuoka city. He was looking rather scruffy at the time but showed the clerk at the door a wallet stuffed full of cash and told the staff, “I just won three million yen betting on the horses.” (Horse racing and wagering on the races are legal in Japan.)

He proceeded to choose a lovely hostess to sit down and dine with him in the VIP room and ordered beer, booze, several bottles of Dom Perignon champagne, and the most expensive sushi on the menu. He also reportedly ordered drinks and food for other people in the club.

Japan Makes Saving Face a Priority Over Saving Lives

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, which was under control in Japan briefly but is now rising rapidly, the establishment had been short of customers and was at first excited to have such a free-spending customer. They were excited... until it was 5 a.m. and it came time for Eguchi to pay his 1.1-million yen bill, which included the cost of food, drinks, and other service charges. At this point, Eguchi confessed that his wallet was actually stuffed with play money, the kind that is sold at toy stores. An angry waiter dragged him to a nearby police box where he was arrested on the spot for fraud.

He only had 1,173 yen ($11) in cash and coins on his person at the time. Eguchi reportedly told the police, “I really wanted to drink booze but I didn’t have any money.”

This was not Eguchi’s first “eat-and-run.” In June 2016, he was arrested in a high-end district of Kyoto for eating and dining about 140,000 yen ($1300)-worth of booze and food with no intent to pay. At that time, the nightclub where he chose to drink did not provide sushi, so he had it delivered to the club. It was a time when Japan was more prosperous and COVID-19 didn’t exist, so the club was full and he bought drinks for everyone there, including the staff, loudly shouting “Kanpai!” (Cheers!) to anyone within hearing distance. But when it came time to pay the bill, he tried to get out of it by insisting, “I’ll have to go to the ATM to get the cash.” “I left the money in my hotel”—before finally admitting he couldn’t pay. He only had 42 yen (39 cents) in his pocket and was promptly arrested for fraud.

Generally, courts in Japan are lenient with those who skip out on their bar tabs or expensive meals, but since this is Eguchi’s second time at bat, he is likely to spend some time in jail. In a way, it’s good that he had one great night out before his arrest. There is no booze in Japanese jail and the food is deplorable—just ask former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Unfortunately for Eguchi, and unlike Ghosn, he clearly doesn’t have several million dollars to hire someone to help him make a great escape.

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