Easy Come, Easy Go: Man Accidentally Receives COVID Relief Money, Blows It Gambling Online

Unintended recipient in Japan made 46.3 million yen of taxpayers’ money disappear in 11 days
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Americans on either side of the aisle have been known to express dissatisfaction over the appropriation of COVID-19 relief funds the past two years. But a recent incident in Japan tops anything going on in the Western Hemisphere.

According to an Associated Press report (which got its information from the Kyodo News agency), a 24-year-old jobless man in the Japanese fishing town of Abu mistakenly received a wire transfer of 46.3 million yen, roughly the equivalent of $360,000. The money received in Sho Taguchi’s bank account was intended to provide COVID assistance for low-income households. Rather than returning the money, Taguchi admitted that he spent — and lost — most of it by gambling online.

He reportedly made 34 withdrawals in 11 days and was left with only 68,000 yen (about $530) in his bank account.

The report did not state whether he lost the money playing online casino games, betting on sports, or some combination thereof.

It is notable that online gambling is not legal and regulated in Japan, which would suggest Taguchi was using unregulated sites.

Different in regulated environment?

Taguchi was arrested Wednesday for what is being termed computer fraud. The funds — 100,000 yen each for 463 low-income households — were accidentally deposited in his bank account in April. Taguchi’s name was reportedly first on the list of 463 and he received the entirety of the transfer.

Abu Mayor Norihiko Hanada told the press he hopes police will be able to trace the money and recover it in full.

Had this happened in a legal gambling jurisdiction with regulated sites, it would theoretically be much easier for a local government, a state gambling commission, and the online gaming sites involved to work together to see the funds returned.

Photo: Shutterstock

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