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Man Gambles Away A Town’s Covid Relief Fund After It Appeared In His Account Due To Clerical Error

Photo: Shutterstock / massimofusaro
Man losing at slot machines in casino

A Japanese man has been arrested after allegedly spending 46.3 million yen ($359,000) in COVID-19 relief money that was accidentally given to him.

24-year-old Taguchi Sho, a resident of Abu in Yamaguchi Prefecture, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of computer fraud, police said.

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He is accused of spending the COVID-19 relief money intended for the 463 low-income households all on gambling.

Sho was mistakenly given the COVID-19 relief money due to a clerical error.

Taguchi received the COVID relief by accident because of a mishap. His details were listed at the top of a list of eligible applicants, causing a bank to mistakenly transfer all of the money to his account.

Taguchi's lawyer spoke at a press conference on Monday that he had moved all the money out of his account via his smartphone. 

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The amount was then transferred to his account on April 8. So little by little, Taguchi moved 600,000 yen for two weeks, allegedly to avoid detection; all the while, the town finally realized their mistake and started to look for the money.

After finding out where it went, town officials tried to contact Taguchi but had difficulty. After finally catching up to him on April 21, he informed them all the money was gone from his account. 

His lawyer explains that he gambled away all of the money and cannot currently pay it back in full.

Last Thursday, the town of Abu Yamaguchi Prefecture sued Taguchi for 51 million yen ($389,000) for the total return of the relief money and legal fees. 

Officials were left in an awkward position after Taguchi's confession.

Legally speaking, the town technically gave him money through an error, and it wasn't technically stealing in the sense of the crime.

The town consulted lawyers and law enforcement, and on May 12, they took action by filing a lawsuit against Taguchi, wanting 51.16 million yen.

Initially, Taguchi refused to return the money, holding his ground that the money was given to him rather than stolen.

The town, according to reports, said Taguchi refused to return the money, saying he had "moved from my account and cannot be returned. I will atone for my sins."

However, after being threatened with a lawsuit he has now opted to pay the money back.

Taguchi has said he intends to return the money, explaining "It cannot be undone anymore. I will not run. I will pay for my crime."

However, the town has not withdrawn the lawsuit so it appears this will be settled in court.

Another set of payments has been issued to the eligible households.

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Kurtis Condra is a writer based in the San Fracisco Bay area who divides his time between covering celebrity and entertainment news and writing poetry. You can follow him and his poetic journey on Instagram

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