It is a little after 9:30 p.m. in Kabukicho, Shinjuku.
A reporter was walking through the entertainment district with an acquaintance, feeling tipsy after a first-party party, when a male tout approached them.
“0000 (the name of a famous izakaya chain) is packed. But if you’re willing to try our affiliated branch, we have plenty of seats available, so we can guide you in right away.”
It seems they are confirming with the restaurant. The man is speaking into a small wireless communication device, asking, “You can let the two of them in now, right?” We had already decided on a venue for the second party, so we declined the man’s invitation. Little did we expect that there would be rampant rip-off scams claiming to be affiliated with major chain restaurants.
The grilled chicken skewers were not fully cooked.
By January 29, the Anti-Gang Division of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested 15 men and women, aged 18-58, including Zhang Peng (47) and Takahashi Kenji (58), both Chinese nationals of unknown occupation, on suspicion of obstructing business by deception, for touting on a street in Kabukicho under the guise of a restaurant affiliated with the yakitori chain “Tori Aristocrat” and taking them to the restaurant. The Zhang suspects operate “Torimichi,” “Torikichi Bar,” and other taverns that have nothing to do with “Tori Aristocrat. They were allegedly ripping off passersby by calling out to them, “Toriki (Tori Aristocrat)!”
“It’s full at Toriki (‘Torikizoku’), so let me introduce you to one of our affiliated stores.”
The customers were astonished when they entered the restaurant of Zhang and the other suspects.
“According to posts on social media from affected customers, they received undercooked yakitori and dried-out bean sprouts when they ordered. The seasoning was also inadequate, making the food barely edible. The charges were far beyond the advertised ‘all-you-can-drink for 1780 yen.’ Customers reported being charged more than three times the promised amount, with additional fees like ‘table charge’ and weekend surcharge added on.
Some customers were charged almost 10,000 yen for just two beers and a small appetizer. The establishment displayed small-font notices such as 10% service charge, leading many customers to quietly accept the overcharges. However, since last year, there have been over 20 complaints reported to the police, leading to the recent arrest. Tori Aristocrat, whose operations were disrupted, has also filed a complaint with the Metropolitan Police Department and called for caution.”
Recently, there has been a surge in fraudulent practices involving affiliated restaurants of well-known chains such as Tori Aristocrat, mainly centered around Kabukicho.
According to the police, Zhang and the other suspects have close ties to the quasi-gang “Chinese Dragon”. It is possible that the money from the rip-offs may have flowed to the organization. Since they can no longer blatantly charge high prices due to the tightened crackdown, they may have changed their forms and methods to commit fraudulent acts.
A new rip-off scam in which the reporter was almost a victim. Beware of touts who lure you with sweet words.
PHOTO： Shinji Hasuo