Man in Japan gambles COVID town funds mistakenly sent to him

Category : Human Interest

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. wire / waɪər / (v.) – to send money electronically

    Please wire the payment to my bank account.

  2. gambling / ˈgæm blɪŋ / (n.) – the act of betting money or other valuable things in a game

    He lost his car to gambling.

  3. allegedly / əˈlɛdʒ ɪd li / (adv.) – used to say that something has taken place without any proof

    He was allegedly at the crime scene, but there’s no video to prove it.

  4. subsidy / ˈsʌb sɪ di / (n.) – money that’s paid by the government to keep prices low or to help businesses or organizations to continue to function

    The government allotted $10 million as a subsidy for state universities.

  5. wave of (something) / weɪv əv / (idiom) – an unusually large number of similar events, usually bad ones, happening within the same period of time

    The citizens are having difficulty dealing with the wave of oil price hikes.


Read the text below.

The money was supposed to be COVID-19 assistance for low-income households in a small Japanese town, but it was mistakenly wired to a bank account of a resident who refused to return it and spent most of it on online gambling, police said.

Sho Taguchi, a 24-year-old jobless resident in the town of Abu in western Japan, was arrested on Wednesday, Yamaguchi prefectural police said.

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

He’s being held on suspicion of computer fraud. Taguchi had allegedly refused the town request to return the money, police said.

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

Town officials are separately investigating how the erroneous transfer went through unnoticed, a mistake that has triggered a wave of criticism from residents.

Abu Mayor Norihiko Hanada on Thursday told reporters that the arrest is a step toward tracing the money and hoped it is recovered in full.

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

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • A town’s COVID-19 subsidy was accidentally sent to only one man. How do you think the situation could’ve been avoided (ex. assigning more people to monitor the transfer)? Discuss.
  • Some legal experts say that the town was unlikely to recover its losses. What do you think should be done to Taguchi (ex. be imprisoned for a long time, be given counseling)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What would you do if you suddenly woke up with millions in your bank account? Discuss.
  • If you had extra money to spare, would you try gambling with it? Why or why not? Discuss.
Category : Human Interest