Finally arrested! How the former president of the “400 Million Class Car Delivery Trouble” fell
Dunamis Racing is a car dealership located in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture. On January 26, the president of the dealership, Toru Kotani, 63, was arrested on suspicion of fraud in connection with a problem in which customers who paid money to purchase new cars at the dealership have not received their cars for up to two years or more, and refunds have rarely been made.
He is suspected of having defrauded a man in Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture, out of 3.2 million yen in the name of selling him a car between the end of last year and January of this year, but in addition to that, the police had received several inquiries from the man saying that he had paid for the car but had not taken delivery of it. The arrest was made in Saitama Prefecture, not in Nagano Prefecture, where the store Kotani operated was located,” said a reporter from the society section of a national newspaper.
Mr. A, a resident of Nagano City and a different person from the man who was cheated out of 3.2 million yen, has known the Kotani suspect for nearly 30 years and has purchased eight cars from him. However, when Mr. A purchased his family’s car, he revealed an apparent “change” from the previous purchases.
We have purchased eight cars through President Kotani alone. We have also introduced about 15 cars to our acquaintances and friends. Up until now, the cars have been delivered without any problems.
The cars my sons bought are Alphard and Harrier. They each borrowed money from a financial institution with a low interest rate and planned to pay it off in 10 years. It was their first new car purchase. They told me they would give me a lower price if I would pay the full amount up front before delivery. The discounts were 600,000 yen for the Alphard and 400,000 yen for the Harrier. These are discounts that a Toyota dealership would never offer.
So I decided to pay the deposit in advance, but the car was not delivered and has been delayed again and again. When I demanded delivery of the car, they said they would give me various services free of charge, so I kept putting up with them.
According to the victims and police officials, there were victims not only in Nagano Prefecture, but also in Niigata, Shizuoka, and Osaka. According to the victims and police officials, there were more than 100 victims of car delivery scams not only in Nagano Prefecture, but also in Niigata, Shizuoka, and Osaka. If acquaintances and friends who lent money to Kotani and have not returned it, former employees, and landlords of stores and factories are included, the number of victims is estimated to be more than 300.
The most common types of vehicles purchased by victims were minivans and SUVs, including the Toyota Alphard, Toyota Harrier, Suzuki Spacia, and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class among imports. Simple calculations indicated that the total amount of damage was estimated to be 400 million yen.
After graduating from high school in Niigata Prefecture, Kotani went to work at a Nissan plant in Kanagawa Prefecture, and after working at the plant for several years, he was transferred to a Nissan dealership in Kanagawa Prefecture as a salesman. At the age of 35, he was promoted to sales manager, but resigned from the Nissan dealership because “my subordinates became older, and it became difficult to do my job,” and founded Dunamis Racing in 1995. The company offered a variety of car-related services, from tuning, dress-up, and drifting machine complete car manufacturing, to new and used car sales, vehicle inspections, maintenance, and auto insurance.
The shop was once famous as one of the best tuning stores in Nagano Prefecture. Cars with ‘DR’ stickers on them were the envy of everyone. The shop was full of energy with five mechanics. The store was full of energy, with five mechanics working there,” said one of the victims who purchased a car from Kotani.
However, another victim who knew Kotani revealed this side of Kotani.
He was vain and couldn’t save money. And I felt that he probably hadn’t lost the good feeling he had when he was in the bubble era. The car he drove to work was a Nissan GT-R that was said to cost no less than 10 million dollars, and he ate out every night. We ate out every night, often ordering a large portion of yakiniku (barbecued meat) at a nearby restaurant and leaving the rest behind. He also had no problem taking out a large amount of sushi and throwing away the uneaten portions. He was popular with women, and I think he spent a lot of money.
The turning point came in 2011, when at the age of 52 he ran for the Nagano City Council election and lost badly. Around that time, the business condition deteriorated. The five employee mechanics who had been with the company when it first opened gradually quit because they were increasingly not being paid properly, and when they could not secure enough manpower, they threw the work to a nearby gas station or car store. As a result, the company could no longer expect to make much profit from maintenance and tire changes, a situation that was compounded by the fact that he suffered a stroke at the end of 2020.
If the top management, who is supposed to be the “face” of the company, is in such a bad shape that he cannot even face his employees, then naturally he cannot face his customers properly either. Kotani’s stroke did not appear to be serious, but he must have felt very angry and ashamed that he had collapsed. He went on a rampage in the hospital, saying, “Please let me go home! and went on a rampage in the hospital. He was kicked out and returned to work a little less than a month later.
He was left paralyzed on the left side of his body and had to walk with a cane, but his right side of his body was fine and he was able to drive a car. With his physical disability, he began to engage more and more in sales activities, sending lines to buyers who were waiting for delivery of their cars and to customers with whom he had established connections for vehicle inspections and maintenance.
However, after December 28 of last year, the LINE communication stopped. Apparently, the cell phones that were used to communicate with the victims were cancelled, making it impossible to contact them. At the same time, however, it was also known that the company had continued its sales activities, such as providing estimates to customers who were unaware of the damage, making them deposit money, and answering their questions. In fact, some victims had deposited 3.2 million yen since the beginning of this year. After that, he suddenly sent a message to a customer with whom he had been communicating on the evening of January 15, stating that he was going to be hospitalized, and then cut off contact with the customer and disappeared.
With his business slipping and unable to face his employees, Kotani may have had no choice but to betray his longtime customers and disappear.
Although Kotani was arrested this time, the anger of those who were involved in the car delivery trouble due to the suspect’s repeated “betrayals” has not subsided. What kind of solution will be found through future investigations? We will continue our coverage.
Interview and text by： Kumiko Kato