Common Scams in Tokyo

Common scams in Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the most popular tourist destinations for people across the globe. You will love the delicious food, themed cafes, cherry blossoms, and the rich history visible in temples, castles, and shrines. There is something for everyone in Tokyo. However, you need to be aware of some common scams or botakuri (Japanese term for the scam) in Tokyo that target tourists. Most of the scams in Tokyo follow the same principle: blatantly lying to make you give the scammer money. While most scammers want only money, others can be more dangerous such as looking for a victim to rape. The following are a few scams in Tokyo that target foreigners that you should be aware of.

Fake monk asking for money scam

This scam targets mostly tourists. This is common in the Akihabara area. You need to keep an eye out while visiting this area during your vacation. A person dressed like a Buddhist monk might come over to you and ask for money. They will request you make a donation for some religious purposes. They will show you a book with a list of names and the donation amounts of some other people in order for them to look credible.  The people listed and or donation amounts are most likely fake.  You should avoid making any type of donation. As they are fake monks the money given by you will go into their pockets only.

Ore Ore Sagi scam

Another scam in Tokyo as well as other parts of Japan is the Ore Ore Sagi scam. It literally translates as “It’s me, It’s me Scam”. This scam targets mostly elderly Japanese citizens rather than tourists.  This is usually how the scam works.  The scammer will have a list phone numbers of senior citizens.  He will then call and when the victim answers the phone will say Ore Ore “It’s me It’s me in Japanese” pretending to be the son of the victim.  The scammer will then say how he urgently needs money for some bogus reason.  And if he can’t come up with the money then something bad will happen to him.  The elderly victim will then go to the bank and wire the requested amount into the scammers bank account.

Shinjuku Kabukicho rip off bars 

 This scam is prevalent in Tokyo and it mainly targets the tourists. A fun night out drinking at a hostesses bar might accidentally cost you up to ¥2.6 million as well as a death threat from the bar staff if you don’t pay the money. This scam commonly occurs in the Kabukicho area of Tokyo. Kabukichō is an entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku. If you like drinking then it might be difficult to control your urge to visit this area in Tokyo.  A tout on the street will usually approach naive locals or foreigners by enticing them to enter their bar for an inexpensive price.  However, in the end the customer will end up with a huge bill many times the original amount stated. Beware of anyone who comes up to you and suggests that you drink at their bar.

Roppongi spiked drink scam

Another scam in Roppongi Tokyo is the spiked drink scam. Roppongi is a lively entertainment district in Tokyo where both the tourists and locals enjoy the buzzing late-night bars and clubs. When you will enter a bar, the last thing on your mind is that you will be the victim of a spiked drink scam. You accidentally enter into a shady bar and place an order for a drink. Either the bartender or a beautiful girl you are talking with will spike your drink, you will then pass out after a few minutes.  The purppose of this scam is intended to steal your passport and/or empty your wallet.  After you wake up you are then told about an outrageous amount of money that you owe the bar. The bar staff will then will drag you to a nearby ATM for you to withdraw your money and  pay the tab. Sexual assaults have also been reported. So, be extra vigilant when entering bars in Roppongi.

Disaster relief scam

Another scam in Tokyo is the disaster relief scam. This scam is standard in the Shinjuku and Shibuya areas. The disaster relief scam is similar to the monk scam. You will find middle-aged nicely  dressed people holding what seems to be official papers approach you for donations for any disaster worldwide that recently happened.  They speak fairly decent  English and seem harmless and very polite. They normally target foreigners. Whenever you find any middle-aged lady asking for help for disaster victims around the world, stay away from them.

Thai orphans scam

Another scam in Tokyo is the Thai orphans scam. This scam normally occurs in the Harajuku area. In this scam, someone will  approach you on the street and show you various materials and or pamphlets to get you to make a donation for Thai orphans. Do not believe them as this is all fake.

Model scouting scam

Another scam in Tokyo is the model scam. This is extremely common in Shibuya. This is one of the common scams in Tokyo, but very dangerous. They target beautiful, young, and attractive ladies who are walking alone. Some guy will  follow them and promise them various modeling jobs. The victims might sometimes get raped and also forced into doing adult videos.

Like I said at first, Tokyo is basically one of the safest places in the world; however, there are a small number of unethical people who will stop at nothing to either scam you of your hard earned money or do even worse.  If you plan on living here long term then you will come to know about these types of scams and will be able to avoid them entirely.  If you are a tourist and travelling here for the first time then my biggest advice to you is to be very suspicious and doubtful if someone approaches you on the street either requesting you to make a donation or asking you to visit their bar.

Did you enjoy today’s article on common scams in Tokyo?  If you have any questions about scams in Tokyo please leave them in the comments sections.  Also be sure to check out last months article on the top sightseeing spots in Tokyo part two here. 


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