Japanese man accidentally paid £287k in Covid money and gambles it all away

Boris Johnson meets Japanese prime minister at Downing Street
The Independent

A man in Japan who was paid millions of Japanese yen by accident took no time to spend the fortune - and his lawyer said he's already gambled the lot away online and has disappeared.

Legal action is now being taken by the southern town of Abu in Japan's Yamaguchi Prefecture which is suing the man for 51m yen with legal fees included, and is also contemplating criminal action too.

The unnamed 24-year-old found the 46.3m yen ($357,400, £287,000) he mistakenly received sitting in his bank account - money which was from a Covid relief fund and intended to be split between 463 low-income families.

Each family was meant to receive 100,000 yen ($770; £620) from the government as part of a scheme to help them out given the financial ramifications of the pandemic has had.

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However this never happened - instead, on April 8, the 46.3m yen was transferred into a personal banking account belonging to the man.

And the man certainly splashed the cash, with an investigation finding that he withdrew 600,000 yen every day for about two weeks, The Asahi Shimbunreported.

By the time the authorities got in touch with the man, all of the money had already been spent.

The man's lawyer says he spent all of the money through gambling on online casino websites via his smartphoneiStockphoto by Getty Images

"I've already moved the money. It can't be returned," the man is quoted as saying as perBBC. "It cannot be undone any more. I will not run. I will pay for my crime."

Though despite initially agreeing to co-operate with the authorities, the man has since disappeared.

His lawyer had told the media on Tuesday (May 17) that the man squandered the funds through playing online casino websites on his smartphone and said added his client had agreed to work with the authorities to be interviewed by prefecture police.

But authorities have been unable to reach the man since the lawsuit was filed against him on May 12.

"I don't currently have the money and I don't have anything with property value at hand. It's actually difficult to return it," the lawyer quoted him as saying, according to The Asahi Shimbun.

Mayor Norihiko Hanada has issued an apology saying he was "deeply sorry" for the fault and added his office "will do our utmost to take back the large amount of public money."

There is good news for the residents affected who were supposed to receive the money, as another round of 100,000 yen payments has been correctly given to those eligible families.

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