Man gambles entire town’s COVID funds after clerical ‘windfall’

It’s a tale of two countries: As Australia prepares to turn off the tap to its COVID-relief payment scheme, Japan is fighting to get back an entire town’s relief funds which it erroneously transferred to a single resident.

It’s a tale of two countries: As Australia prepares to turn off the tap to its COVID-relief payment scheme, Japan is fighting to get back an entire town’s relief funds which it erroneously transferred to a single resident.

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment scheme – announced in August 2020 to provide financial relief for Aussies forced to self-isolate or quarantine – is due to wrap up tomorrow, 30th June.

Its conclusion follows in the footsteps of another federal disaster-relief payment scheme, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which itself progressively dried up across the country in late 2021 as vaccination rates reached predetermined levels.

Taken together, the two payment schemes have provided assistance to more than 2.38 million Australians, to the tune of $14.54 billion (as at 22nd May 2022).

Meanwhile, one individual in the Japanese town of Abu awoke in recent weeks to find an unexpected ¥46.3 million (about A$500,000) sitting in his bank account.

Mistakenly deposited in one lump sum into the account by a government official, the figure represented Abu’s total COVID subsidy payment allotment and had been intended to aid the town’s 463 low-income households – ¥100,000 each (A$1070).

Upon being made aware of the clerical error, the recipient, 24-year-old unemployed resident Sho Taguchi, refused to return the money, instead withdrawing it 34 times in just over 10 days.

Mr Taguchi then spent almost all of it on gambling, local police said. According to reports, only ¥68,000 (A$730) was left in his bank account by the time police intervened.

The town has since recovered a significant portion of the funds from a payment services company used by Mr Taguchi, but is now suing the ‘hai’ roller for ¥51 million (A$548,000) in compensation, including money for legal fees.

Reach does not assume responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of any information provided, and the views expressed are not reflective of Reach Markets’ position.

Sources:

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