The latest in a long line of slip-ups.

For those just joining us, there’s been quite an ordeal developing in the small town of Abu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where the local government accidentally transferred an amount of money intended to be divided among 463 of its residents to a single person.

In Japan, in about 99.999 percent of the cases you’d expect the person to promptly return the money, either out of civic duty or good old-fashioned paranoia, but they somehow managed to send it to the one guy who thought he could turn a profit off it. After clearing out all the money from his bank account, the 24-year-old vanished shortly before being sued by the town for the return of the money plus legal fees.

Despite the loss of a good chunk of the town’s annual budget, they had considerable problems taking firm legal action since they technically gave him the money. From a legal standpoint it’d be as if I left a duffle bag full of cash in a random stranger’s house. I probably would blame myself more than anyone if I never got it back.

▼ Excuse me sir, could you hold my money for a bit? No… No need to count it. Just hold it please. Alright, I’ll be back in an hour or so. Wait right here!

Image: Pakutaso

Granted, that’s an oversimplification of the situation and factors such as the man’s awareness of how the money arrived in his bank account also come into play, but the situation still made pressing criminal charges that would stick difficult.

That’s all changed now, however, thanks to recent developments such as the man’s objectively boneheaded decision to blow all 46.3 million yen (US$340,000) of the accidental transfer at online casinos. Aside, from being a horrible waste of money, it also put him in the crosshairs of law enforcement as committing “fraudulent use of a computer.”

This is a conveniently vaguely defined crime that pretty much just involves using technology to obtain money or goods dishonestly. One past example of “fraudulent use of a computer”, was the case of an elderly woman in Wakayama who tricked her supermarket’s self-checkout scanner by putting discount stickers on full-priced items she wanted to buy – so it’s pretty wide-reaching.

▼ The face of cybercrime

Photo © SoraNews24

In the case of this defendant, who has now been officially named as Sho Taguchi, he was using a smartphone app to gamble which automatically withdrew money from his account as he played. By using a computer-like device to move money which he knew didn’t belong to him, police believe he was engaging in computer fraud. A newly launched investigation into this activity revealed that he had done it about 34 times in the 11-day period that it took him to squander everything.

Despite initial calls for his arrest, online comments now seem unsatisfied with this development based on the notion that he wouldn’t be able to pay back the money if he were in prison.

“Are they stupid? How can he return the money if he’s arrested?”
“I would have been way too scared to try something like that.”
“So, is the person who sent him the money not getting punished?”
“Can’t return any money while under arrest…”
“Would you throw your life away for 40 million?”
“This is stupid and too late.”
“You could make the argument that he never would have committed the crime if he wasn’t sent the money in the first place.”

Along the same lines, it wouldn’t be surprising if Taguchi’s lawyer is preparing a defense that he was the victim in all this. Considering the almost superhuman speed at which he lost so much money gambling and the digital receipts to prove it, it probably wouldn’t be a stretch to diagnose him with a gambling addiction.

Media spoke to his former landlord and co-worker prior to his going on the lam, both of whom said that he was always a very mild-mannered and punctual person, further strengthening the case that he was a essentially good guy who had a momentary lapse of control over his inner-demons during a moment of intense temptation.

On the other hand, he also seems to have a chronic habit of screwing up, so we’ll see if another revelation comes out that blows that whole defense out of the water in the coming days.

Source: NHK News Web, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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