Man in Japan bets COVID city funds sent to him by mistake

TOKYO (AP) — The money was supposed to be COVID-19 relief for low-income households in a small Japanese town, but was mistakenly transferred to the bank account of a resident who refused to return it and spent most of it online. game, police said.

Sho Taguchi, a 24-year-old unemployed man from the western Japanese city of Abu, was arrested on Wednesday, Yamaguchi prefectural police said.

Police said on Thursday he admitted spending most of the 46.3 million yen ($360,000) of taxpayers’ money on gambling. According to Kyodo News, there is only 68,000 yen ($530) left in his bank account after withdrawing the money 34 times in just over 10 days after the city made the mistake.

He is being held on suspicion of computer fraud. Taguchi reportedly refused the city’s request to return the money, police said.

The funds were COVID-19 grants that were deposited into his bank account in April. Each of Abu’s 463 low-income households, or 3,372 residents, was to receive 100,000 yen ($780). But a city official mistakenly submitted a single request to a financial institution to transfer the full amount to Taguchi, whose name was first on the list of recipients, Kyodo News reported.

City officials are separately investigating how the mishandling went unnoticed, a mistake that sparked a flurry of criticism from residents.

Abu Mayor Norihiko Hanada told reporters on Thursday that the arrest was a step towards finding the money and hoped it would be recovered in full.

Taguchi’s arrest was based on his alleged transfer of 4 million yen ($31,300) of city money paid into an account believed to be an online gambling site. Police declined to say how much money he actually gambled, although he told them it was the bulk.

About Walter J. Leslie

Check Also

A suspended sculpture transforms the atrium of the Cape Town museum | app

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Moody, brooding and floaty, Malagasy artist Joel Andrianomearisoa’s “The …