Hundreds of people have filed fraud complaints against the popular Japanese buffet restaurant chain Daruma Sushi Co, led by its franchisor, who has fled Thailand.
On Thursday at 11 pm, the company owner, whose name was not disclosed, fled to Dubai from Thailand, according to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) police on Monday.
He was traveling alone, and his final destination was unknown.
At the Consumer Protection Police Division, police spoke with e-voucher buyers, franchisees, and suppliers.
Approximately 100 million baht could have been lost by more than 400 people, according to their lawyer, Ratchaphol Sirisakhon.
The Office of the Consumer Protection Board (ONCB) received a large number of fraud complaints.
One day after the franchisor disappeared, all 27 Daruma Sushi branches closed their doors due to server problems.
Daruma Sushi offered e-vouchers
In an effort to promote its salmon buffet, Daruma Sushi offered e-vouchers at a steep price reduction of 199 baht. Thousands of e-vouchers were purchased, with some salmon lovers reselling them at a profit.
The promotion of a discount from 499 baht to 199 baht to boost sales of the e-vouchers, which are normally sold five to ten per order, is highly suspect, police said.
Using e-vouchers instead of paper ones could also make it easier to destroy evidence of fraud that can later be used against suspects.
According to a Daruma Sushi franchisee who asked not to be identified, she is a regular customer of the sushi buffet restaurant. In Bangkok, she invested in a Daruma Sushi franchise located in the Sai Mai district.
Yesterday, she and another franchisee filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Police Division against Daruma Sushi Co.
Upon paying the franchise fee, she was assured that she would receive a share of the profits from the restaurant. Monthly payments were promised.
When she agreed to invest 2 million baht in the program, she had to transfer all daily income from the branch restaurant to the franchiser. She said this was before she was promised 10% of monthly profits.
In the first two months, she received about 100,000 baht per month from the franchiser, despite the restaurant not making any profits.
In a LINE group chat last month, the franchise owner announced he was unable to find salmon supplies and lost contact with the entire group, she said.