Car Delivery Fraud Suspect Witnessed “Crying to the Police” Before the Incident Was Uncovered
Toru Kotani, 63, former president of a car dealership in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture, was arrested on October 26 on suspicion of fraud for not delivering cars to customers who had paid for new cars for up to two years or more and refunding almost nothing. It was revealed that Otani had shown up at the local Nagano Minami Police Station at the end of last year, 10 months before his arrest. One of the victims revealed, “At the end of last year, on December 27th, Kotani showed up at the local police station.
On December 27, at the end of last year, an acquaintance went to the Minami Police Station (Nagano Minami Police Station) to pick up necessary documents and saw President Toru Kotani entering a room that looked like an interrogation room. The acquaintance had business dealings with Kotani, so there is no doubt about it. During this period, I wanted to get in touch with the president but couldn’t, and I didn’t know the real reason at the time.”
Kotani was arrested on suspicion of defrauding a man in Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture, out of 3.2 million yen in the name of selling him an automobile between the end of last year and January of this year. However, in addition to that, the police had received numerous inquiries from victims who said that their cars had not been delivered even though they had paid for them.
Interviews with several victims revealed that there were more than 100 people who had problems with the delivery of their cars alone. In addition, there are also reports that the number of victims may exceed 300, including acquaintances and former employees who had lent money to Kotani and have not received it back. Many of the cars purchased by the victims were Toyota Alphard, which costs 4-5 million yen for a domestic car, Suzuki Spacia, which costs 1.5 million yen, and Mercedes-Benz G-Class, which costs 15 million yen for an imported car. The total amount of damage was estimated to exceed 400 million yen.
Kotani, a former Nissan dealer salesman, established Dunamis Racing in Nagano Prefecture in 1995 after retiring from Nissan Motor Co. The company offered a variety of services related to cars, from the sale of new and used cars to vehicle inspections, maintenance, and car insurance. At first, the store gained fame as a tuning store and had a lively staff of five mechanics.
However, the turning point came in 2011 when Kotani, at the age of 52, ran for the Nagano City Assembly election and lost badly. Business conditions began to deteriorate, and the five employee mechanics quit because they were increasingly not being paid properly, so little profit could be expected from maintenance and tire changes. Furthermore, in December 2020, when the Kotani suspect suffered a mild stroke, the business condition, which had been on the verge of tipping over, deteriorated rapidly, and this business condition affected the purchasers as well.
According to the stories of several victims who were in direct contact with the Kotani suspect, problems such as “no delivery” and “no refunds” began to increase from the time he suffered a mild stroke, and by March 2021, about three months after he collapsed, the number of victims had already swelled to dozens. By March 2021, about three months after the collapse, the number of victims had swelled to several dozen, but Kotani allegedly had postponed delivery of the cars, citing “a lack of Coronas and semiconductors” as the reason.
On the other hand, to buyers waiting for delivery and to customers with whom he had established connections through vehicle inspections and maintenance, Kotani would daily say, “Please introduce me to someone who’s buying a new car! We’ll give you a discount! to buyers waiting for their cars to be delivered and to customers with whom he had established relationships through vehicle inspections and maintenance. It is believed that he was trying to make money in order to halt the deterioration of his business condition.
However, after December 28, 2021, the “request line” that Kotani had been receiving daily from the suspect suddenly stopped. When people who were waiting for the delivery of their cars tried to contact him, they could no longer even “read” the message. One of the victims stated, “I used to receive messages every day.
I was fed up with the daily messages, but during the year-end and New Year’s holidays, the messages were never read, and when I went to the store, I found that the store was a shell of a monkee.
Kotani was last seen at the Nagano Minami Police Station on December 27, 2021. In other words, it was the day before the line sent by Kotani to the customer was suddenly cut off. A victim who is different from the person who made the comment at the beginning of this report revealed, “The president [of the company] (Kotani) was the one who sent the lines.
The president (Kotani) was under collection from the black market money lenders, which he had feared the most. The president, who was disabled due to a stroke, was unable to fight back, so he was terrified and cried out to the police, saying, ‘I’ll tell you everything I’ve done so far, and I want you to protect me and help me.
Even if he returned to his home, he could no longer go back to his home because there was a fear that black market money agents might come to his home again. Furthermore, it seems that the relatives and acquaintances he wanted to rely on had also turned him down, and the desperate president had no choice but to flee.
Since Kotani disappeared after December 28 of last year, it is believed that only a few victims were discovered after 2022, but if he had been kept under some form of surveillance, it is possible that at least the few victims discovered this year could have been spared. On the other hand, it seems safe to assume that this “crying wolf” incident was the turning point that led to his arrest for fraud.
Did the Kotani suspect really visit the Nagano Minami Police Station? If it is true that he “cried out” to the police for fear of collection from black market dealers, why did the police not keep Kotani under surveillance while interviewing him? The police officer in charge of the police station said, “It is a matter of investigative information.
The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun reported, “We cannot answer the question, including whether or not the suspect did or did not visit the Nagano Minami Police Station, because it is a matter of investigative information.
According to the Shinano Mainichi Shimbun, Kotani was not in Nagano but at a nursing home in Saitama Prefecture when he was arrested. He had been living quietly without talking to others while receiving public assistance.
Even if Kotani is arrested this time, there is still no prospect whether or not he will be reimbursed for his crimes, which may have further increased the anger of the victims. I am by no means the only one who wants to see the will of the police in the investigation after the arrest.
Interview and text： Kumiko Kato