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When you get change after paying for something in cash, do you ever actually count it to make sure you received the right amount? I sure don’t. Maybe I’m just too used to Japan, where the person working the register will count out each bill and the coins in front of you before handing the change over. It’s just a simple measure taken to double-check that the person at the register isn’t short-changing the customer.

Thorough as it may be, it’s not a flawless method, leaving room for human error, like not being able to tell the difference between a 1,000 yen bill and 10,000 yen bill. But really, who would make that mistake?

Apparently a teenager working the register at a convenience store in Nara recently managed to make that very mistake, but instead of short-changing the customer, he ended up giving 46,000 yen (US$390) in change for a 13,000 yen (US$110) purchase. Fishy! Oh and then, the customer got arrested. Fishier!

There are several aspects of the crime that are borderline shady.

The incident started on a busy night at a Kashihara, Nara convenience store. (Usually, the company and specific store name are released.) A supposedly drunk Kitamyohojicho area firefighter named Shingo Hiramoto (43) went into the store. (The name of suspects aren’t often released until conviction, especially for petty crimes.) Mr. Hiramoto then proceeds to drunkenly pay for his cell phone bill and a pack of cigarettes. (Who pays for their cell phone bill while drunk?) The total was 13,000 yen, so he presented 15,000 yen (US$120) to the 16-year-old clerk. By some fluke, the clerk thought he was accepting 60,000 yen (US$507). 


Before we go any further, let’s dissect this bit.

15,000 yen can be paid in a few ways:
1. 10,000 yen bill + 5,000 yen bill (2 bills)
2. 3 x 5,000 yen bills (3 bills)
3. 2 x 5,000 yen bills + 5 x 1,000 yen bills (7 bills)
4. 5,000 yen bill + 10 x 1,000 yen bills (11 bills)
5. 15 x 1,000 yen bills (15 bills)
*(We won’t even start with the coin possibilities)

In the cases of 3-5, Mr. Hiramoto could have just paid the 13,000 even, so we could assume that he paid with either 2 or 3 bill combinations, but then who knows what a drunk guy would do?

Now, 60,000 yen can be paid in various ways too, but usually, if you were paying that much you’d probably just pay with 6 x 10,000 yen bills. Either way, you can’t pay that much using less than six bills.

We’re confused too, Mr. Chimp.


So, how exactly did the clerk get confused? He claims that a sudden rush caused a “panic” in the store, which threw the young employee for a loop.

Ignoring those points, let’s move on. So, assuming Mr. Hiramoto did pay with 60,000 yen, then for a 13,000 tab he should have received 47,000 yen back in change, right? Wrong! The clerk only gave 46,000 yen in change! Maybe the clerk was drunk too.

Perhaps the young clerk mixed up One Cup sake with water and accidentally got drunk on the job?


After Mr. Hiramoto collected his grossly incorrect change, he left the store. The clerk, who quickly realized his mistake, reported it and Kishihara police found and took Mr. Hiramoto into custody on fraud charges. To our knowledge, the story ends there.

Now, it’s hard to say whether Mr. Hiramoto was plotting the whole thing from the beginning, if he just saw an opportunity to make a quick buck and went with it, or he actually was drunk and doesn’t really remember the incident, as he claims.

Netizens are just as confused as we are. Many people think the clerk is at fault and Mr. Hiramoto should not have been arrested. Others argue that not being honest about receiving too much change is a crime in itself, whether it was a scam or not.

The one point that most people agree upon though, is that the clerk is a bit slow and might not be suitable for a cashier job. Not knowing at which franchise this incident occurred is leaving many locals uneasy about making purchases at any convenience stores and we’re sure from now on every single customer is counting their change to the yen.

Source: Itai News, 47News
Images: Buzzlife, Wikimedia Commons (yen, sake [Kentin]), Flickr (Tambako The Jaguar)