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Court invalidates Y4.8 mil bill after teen takes dad's credit card on tour of hostess clubs

48 Comments
By Preston Phro

After stealing his father’s credit card, one 16-year-old Japanese boy had the (questionably) brilliant idea of taking it for a spin around some “cabaret clubs,” racking up 5,500,000 yen in charges. His father, understandably, was not willing to the pay and went to court to dispute the bill from American Express.

And how did that turn out for him? Not bad, actually.

Last week, the Kyoto District Court officially invalidated 4,800,000 yen of the bill. Thought it’s not a complete win, it’s a pretty damn big reduction. Maybe even enough to keep the father from sending his son to work the debt off in a salt mine.

Presiding Judge Hashidume said that American Express bore partial responsibility for the charges since they didn’t do anything about so many large and clearly suspicious charges. He also pointed out that American Express clearly hadn’t properly verified the identity of the card holder. Additionally, since the kid was only 16 years old, he obviously couldn’t enter into a legally-binding contract, let alone enter and drink at such adult establishments.

The boy, who remains unnamed in accordance with Japanese law, was also said to be quite “baby-faced,” so it was surely obvious that he was underage. Or, rather, it was obvious that he was underage and the clubs were working him over to ratchet up the bills. Turns out this kid was sucking down everything from Dom Perignon to Louis XIII de Remy Martin.

In case you haven’t heard of them, “cabaret clubs” (or “kyabakura” in Japanese) are basically hostess clubs, where attractive women are paid to sit, drink, and talk with customers. Unlike hostess clubs, kyabakura charge based on time, so the goal, obviously, is to entice patrons to drink as much as possible. Which probably sounds exactly like paradise to a 16-year-old with his father’s credit card.

Source: Livedoor news, Sankei News West

Read more news from RocketNews24. -- Teacher Takes Part-Time Job as Call Girl -- Why Japanese Men Can’t Stop Spending Money Just To Drink And Talk With Girls -- Saturday Nights in Kabuki-cho

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48 Comments
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I agree wirh yabura. If he's "baby-faced" why did the club allowed him in? Why was he not carded? The club should take some responsibility as well. They should be fined for allowing and serving a minor. Credit card should go after the club. So many "slap in the face" in japan criminal justice system. Go figure.....

10 ( +11 / -1 )

The credit card company has to take some of the blame - they allowed massive charges onto a stolen credit card. I'm pretty sure if any of of us had a cc stolen, and was then told to pay the charges, we'd go after the cc co.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Dad is still out 700,000 yen. The first 700,000 yen the son makes in the part time job he's going to start real soon should go to dad.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It's ridiculous to blame the credit card company for this. The club, family, and the boy (most importantly) are to blame .

5 ( +10 / -5 )

I'm stealing my wife's card and heading down to Roppongi right .... now.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

And yes, yes, it is the business establishment's responsibilty to verify the signature on the card. If they fail to verify the signature, the paying bank may not honor the transaction. Hopefully Amex and other card issuers will no longer do business with these stupid clubs. More theft by credit card goes on at these places than anywhere else.

As for the charges being high or suspicious, that depends on the normal activity on the account. With the charges being as high as they were the card was a business or no-limit card. I have spent as much as $30k on a single Amex transaction, this is not uncommon with Amex users. I once had a transaction denied, it was because I spent $1 for a big gulp at a 7-11. Since this purchase didn't fit my normal spending pattern, it was flagged. Good chance dad spent a lot of time at these hostess clubs himself.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

He was 16, he is not legally allowed to drink. That is why the clubs picked up the inflated charges. Shows how scummy the cabaret clubs are. They are just yak fronts mostly anyway.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Seems to me that the father should go after the clubs for the balance of the bill!

Maybe even enough to keep the father from sending his son to work the debt off in a salt mine.

Send him anyway, might do him some good!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If Japan has a law which prohibits serving alcohol to underage patrons, the hostess clubs' alcohol licenses should be revoked or at least suspended for allowing that kid to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. Also, considering the amount charged to the credit card, the hostess clubs should assume some responsibility for not checking to ensure the card belonged to him. Further, because of his "baby face," he should have been carded before he was even allowed to enter the hostess clubs. Lastly, that kid was probably a "problem" long before stealing his father's credit card. He must have had some knowledge of clubs andor bars long before he started "sucking down everything from Dom Perignon to Louis XIII de Remy Martin."

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What would be really nice is if the cops went after the credit card fraud industry in Roppongi - i.e., street hustlers pull drunk foreigners into the strip clubs, put a drug in their first free drink that turns the victim into a virtual zombie and then charge as much as possible on the vicitim's credit cards. The victims don't know they've been had until they get their credit card statement. The cops do nothing because it does not involve Japanese.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Well that's a lot of money for how many hours? Did he get laid as well as drunk? Father still picks up a ¥700,000 tab. How does a 16-year-old get into these clubs? "American Express, that'll do nicely!"

3 ( +7 / -4 )

That boy is going to be an interesting person when he grows up and a value to Japanese society. Hell, he already set some legal precedent and he's not even done with high school.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The kid should get some punishment. It seems that getting off scot free only encourages him to do it again since there is no real justice served here.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

How could a credit verify who is using the credit card? That's the establishment's responsibility. Did the father report the card stolen? Unless the boy did this over the span of a few days, in which case the credit card company would have had the time to notify the Card holder of suspicious activity.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

This man has a very high limit. Wealthy or business owner? The boy still needs a kick in the butt for stealing and being a spoiled brat.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The bigger question remains : why are japanese drinking establishments serving alcohol to children (baby-faced ones at that)? I hope AMEX appeals this ruling and wins. Clearly the drinking establishment has acted illegally and recklessly and should incur costs and prosecution.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

People can be incredibly lax regarding credit cards in Japan. I once tried to pay a bar tab, only to realise that I had my wife's card, not my own. I explained the problem and the clerk said simply "Sign your wife's name then." Hard to believe....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not a bad ruling by Presiding Judge Hashidume. Shows judicial leadership.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The RocketNews story was peppered with some excellent pictures of the type of hostess he was frequenting. Some of the hairstyles so very 1960's.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@RealJapan >>Not a bad ruling by Presiding Judge Hashidume

Not a bad ruling?! These establishments have been offering drinks to an underage boy. They should have been arrested for the illegal deed. This simply shows how the legal systenm in Japan works for Yakuza, who own and protect such establishments. Such a sick system; disgusting ...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Dad has an AMEX with a limit over 5,000,000 yen, sounds like a bratty rich kid who was having fun and know's no manners.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@AKBfan - The drug in the drink scam is pretty common. One of my buddies was an associate dean for a foreign university's study abroad program and it happened to one of his students. Last thing the kid remembered was talking to a hot blonde with an Eastern European accent; the next thing he knows he's waking up next to a canal at dawn the next morning, no wallet or phone and so drugged he could barely stand. He was lucky to be alive.

It's also happened to some friends over the years and to one friend in particular because he refuses to learn. It's not always on the first free drink at a strip club but sometimes it is, especially if the person is already very drunk when they go into the bar/strip club.

There are variations on it, but usually the drug puts the person into such a stupor that they have no memory of what's going on but they can still function enough to say yes to anything they're asked and, most importantly, to sign the credit card receipts. The drug wears off and the person finds themself in an unfamilar neighborhood with no memory or, more dangerously, still in the club and being presented a bill for millions of yen.

The victims I know have complained to the police but the cops shrug, ask for evidence and do nothing. When my friend who won't learn told the cops he was going to the bar to complain, they told him to be careful because the bar owners could be dangerous people. The credit card companies force the victims to pay the bill because their signature was legible on the receipt - despite having minimal/ordinary use to sudden charges of 5 bottles of expensive champagne at a bar or the bar's history of credit card fraud complaints.

The operating theory is that this is allowed because the hustlers don't target Japanese, only foreigners, and it only takes place in Roppongi. It may take place elsewhere but I've only heard of it in Roppongi.

Back to the present case - I think the judge was trying to spread the responsibility and forced the bars to bear the most responsibility because they should have known better. But it would be nice if the law here were enforced equally. In the meantime I go to Roppongi for a few comfort food chain stores and get out of there as soon as I'm done before the walkers come out...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This screams "road trip" to me. If I were a baby faced teen - it's cabaret club time!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The reason for this decision was likely based on the name of the card: "American Express". In most of the civilized world, parents are responsible for the misdeeds of their children. If your 16 yesr old goes out and kills someone while driving your car, you will be held financially responsible. Here in Japan it seems that the courts would hold the carmaker responsible (if it were an American car company).

Last month the Japanese courts determined that an elderly Japanese woman had to pay 125 million yen in damages for a fatal accident that her adult son was involved in. Perhaps had be been driving a Caterpillar crane, the judges would have assigned fault to them. What is going on in these courts? Justice is supposed to be blind, not stupid.

Now all we need to do is have all of the parents in Japan whose teenage children have illicitely used their credit cards to deny payment.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

And after the dust has settled the kid learnt what exactly? That stealing is OK....that racking up a huge amount is OK because he doesn't have to pay for it? This is ridiculous all round. Sure the clubs are too blame for allowing a minor to enter and rack up a bill drinking alcohol, but the 16 year old is the one who flogged the credit card from his father and hit the town. Teach him a lesson he will learn for life..............make him the responsible person to get a part time job and pay back at least half of the debt he racked up over a long long time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why are the clubs not being charged with serving a minor?? Underage drinking here is starting to become a huge problem. The only difference between "us" and "them" is that usually fall alseep rather than start a fight. I think dad shouldn've had to pay the bill - perhaps it'll make him take an interesting in parenting his son who clearly is out of control.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@lucabrasi

I agree, but if they offered me the choice of entering my PIN I wouldnt have a problem.

When I buy something I hand over my card and they get me to sign the paper, and then they had back my card helpd under all the receipts and not once have they checked it.

At the GAS station they take my card, swipe it, give it back before I even sign for the GAS!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Did he get laid as well as drunk?"

For only 5,500,000 yen?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sign this kid up! Quit "school", start selling cars, K4 TVs , derivatives, anything! You'll go far, me lad. Prime Minister in 10 years?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And you thought you were daring for stealing the milk money!

What a great story. At least nobody was killed. The father should have to pay something, the clubs should all be fined for not checking the boys ID etc, and the boy should have to clean up outside the clubs or at an old folks home everyday this summer.

And someone should give the poor mother a tissue, and some counseling about how to face the neighborhood mothers and the PTA!

Someone will probably make a movie out of this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just 2 of the 5 clubs accounted for 470,000 of the total amount. The judge considered these two clubs as having clearly taken advantage of the boy. I think the judge is leaving it to AmEx and the clubs as to how they take their 'loss'.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good for the dad that most of it was invalidated. I wonder why the whole things wasn't. Maybe the remaining amount wasn't spent at clubs? The son does need a good kick in the butt! He needs to start working (and overtime at that) to re-pay his dad.

The club is definitely at fault for taking advantage of the kid. I hope they got into trouble for serving a minor.

If the dad frequented these clubs and racked up the same amount regularly, then it wouldn't be suspicious charges but if he didn't, then the CC company is at fault too for not noticing it. I have a state-side CC that I use here. One time I went to the outlet mall in Gotemba and was able to use it two different stores but got denied at the third. I called the CC company and they apparently stopped the card cuz they thought it might have been stolen (the location is different from where I usually use it and the amount was more than I usually purchase). They made me verify information about myself and they re-opened my card. That's what CC companies should be doing!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sangetsu03

Credit card laws of Japan is so written that, if a shop does something wrong, the card company is held responsible of the wrong doing of the shop. The card company cannot collect money from the card holder, but the company does not sustain losses because it simply does not pay the money to the shop or sues the shop to return the money it forwarded.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Bars at fault for serving him and accepting the card in payment when it clearly wasn't his. Amex are at fault for letting so many large charges slip through the net in one night. In their defense they are normally very good at picking up suspicious payments and stopiing the card straight away. The Kid needs a good kick up the a** from his father. @Badge123: I don't see how someones father having a 5 Mill+ limit on Amex makes them 'a bratty rich kid' in general. Ok - So, in this case he was behaving like a brat, but a 5 Mill limit on Amex is nothing out of the usual.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

dbr - kind of agree. Wasn't aware of the drug in drink element but definitely agree with the overcharge part, with the unscrupulous part, with the cops not wanting to get involved or always taking side of clubs part. Have also had friends whose cards have been cloned and have had spending in electrical good sstores in Osaka and eleswhere or online on same night as card used. But those days are behind me now - old and settled and wiser(??). Honest Japan, eh?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Amex is a credit card company that is the strictest in making their customers pay their bill. They are hardcore. I once had a bill of about 210,000 and I asked for installments and I was refused right away.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In any “decent" country they would go after those stupid clubs!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would also refuse to pay the remaining funds, as it seems like the staff at the clubs never checked the signture on the card.... Happens to me all the time, from shopping at Life to the Gas station around the corner, they never check the back of the card.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why are these clubs still in business? They are on the financial record serving alcohol to baby faced teens? That's called "evidence" where I come from. Pull their damned licenses, NOW.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Simon

But most places don't require a signature these days; just your PIN.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

what has happened to the credit card company monitering unusual spending patterns. last year l tried to make a purchase on my partners and l joint card for about £2200 the transaction was declined and within 10 mins we had aphone call from the company asking for verification that we were the ones using it an excellent system that stops little mishaps like that occuring .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i'm sorry but this is one of those 'only in japan' kinda nonsense...

and gives us picture of how little those laws are enforced

and i bet kid gets off with nothing more than a reprimand; what about those clubs? They knowingly served a minor and imo committed fraud as much as that little shrimp.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How could a credit verify who is using the credit card? That's the establishment's responsibility.

Yes, but the establishment is partner of the credit card network. If American Express admits any crook that doesn't even check ID at entrance nor at time of payment for huge bills, it's their fault and responsibility. Note that my proletariat credit card launches the security checking for any purchase over 100 000 yen or if that's over 100 000 in a week's time. So if A-Exp didn't even inquire for 5 millions, they can afford losing them sum. Then, if they want, they can sue their negligent partners, the clubs.

Did he get laid as well as drunk?

Maybe. But after drinking so much, what does he remember of it ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So will the businesses have to take the loses as a learning lesson or will American-Express create a penalty for businesses that do not verify such a large illegal spending spree?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That kid can't have any respect at all for his old man. I mean, there's ripping off your parents wallets for a little pocket change which some kids do, and then there is -this-.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Say what you want, but the kid showed initiative. And he will have something to remember for the rest of his life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While the court was right to reduce the bill, this is not entirely American Express' fault, it's the fault of the clubs and society here in general. I have very, very rarely been asked to sign anything when using a credit card, and even then they never look at the signature on the back of the card to verify. You could steal anyone's card and go on a spending spree and no one would know until it was done.

That said, if it was over an extended period of time (I have a hard time believing he spent that much in one night), the card company does bear SOME blame. The ONE time one of my cards didn't work was because the card company stopped it after I used it while travelling abroad, and it was a Canadian credit card. I had to call the bank and verify that it was indeed me who made the purchases.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Probably dad is happy with the outcome and is proud of his son! I'm sure he saw it as young lad's independence lesson. Now the boy is ready to go to uni and take on his father's business, right ?!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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