The man is in custody after being arrested 'on suspicion of violating computer fraud laws' Photo: AFP/File
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Town in Yamaguchi Prefecture sues after ¥46.3 mil subsidy mix-up

42 Comments

A town that accidentally sent a resident 46.3 million yen in financial aid said on Wednesday it has been forced to file a lawsuit after the recipient refused to return the funds.

"We're sorry to cause trouble to residents... We're now suing this household," an official from Abu told AFP, adding that the decision would be approved at a council meeting on Thursday.

Last month, the town in Yamaguchi prefecture, sent 100,000 yen each to 463 low-income households affected by the pandemic.

But in the process, they mistakenly transferred an additional lump sum of 46.3 million yen to a single household.

Red-faced officials immediately visited the recipient, who has not been identified, and were told the money would be returned.

But despite frantic follow-up letters and calls, there was no sign of the money.

When they finally made face-to-face contact again, according to a letter released by the mayor, the recipient admitted having "moved the money and being unable to return it but said they were willing to atone for the sin."

The incident has made headlines in Japan, with the local mayor releasing a video of apology to his constituents, saying he was "deeply sorry" for the mistake.

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42 Comments
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Every time I go to city hall the amount of paper work, the amount to staff involved the complicated rules, for the simplest of things. And this happens? Then the laws? Now have to take it to court? There is no law about theft? Accidentally or not it’s theft. The recipient just says “sorry it’s gone”? It’s a humorous situation if your not involved.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

said they were willing to atone for the sin.

Comedy gold

11 ( +12 / -1 )

When they finally made face-to-face contact again, according to a letter released by the mayor, the recipient admitted having "moved the money and being unable to return it but said they were willing to atone for the sin."

"Atone for the sin?" I highly doubt he said anything like that!

Would really love to know where he moved it to and why he is unable to return it, but it sure sounds like he is willing to pay it back at some time or another.

If that is true, then there is no reason for the lawsuit.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

From my own experience here, when one owes their municipal office money, they are like a pack of hyenas following a blood trail, and want you to pay it like yesterday.

But when they screw up, and owe you money, they drag their feet and delay for sometimes months to give it back, and never apologize for their screw up.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

The whole thing is a farce, but they have to try everything to get the money back. It's everyone's money, so imagine the resentment over what's happened.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Red-faced officials immediately visited the recipient, who has not been identified, and were told the money would be returned.

I’m kinda getting the feeling that there is NO “guy.”

And the powers that be in the Yamaguchi town are just making up the whole thing to try and embezzle the ¥46.3M.

I mean didn’t the town, almost immediately came up with another ¥46 M to pay the residents off?

Sounds pretty fishy to me.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Why hasn’t he been named and arrested, because it is a crime.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I think you can be looking at up to 10 years imprisonment with hard labor for either theft or fraud here. No doubt the prosecutor will push for the maximum. Hardly seems worth it for what is not really a life-changing amount of cash these days.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I wonder what on earth he has done with it? Transferred it abroad somewhere? Bought a load of bitcoin? Took it out and hid it under his bed? Or, as I suspect, just blew the whole lot on pachinko!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Why hasn’t he been named and arrested, because it is a crime.

Because, for whatever reason, the town hasnt made any complaints to the police about it, and have decided to take it to a civil court instead.

Which makes the story even more fishy, because if it was a "private" entity they would be going to the cops.

Which also says that there is plenty missing from this story!

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I think he should be allowed to keep some of it -- wasn't his mistake. But he definitely needs to return what he can. The amount of mistakes City Hall makes on official issues is crazy. I have had them make mistakes with my name on pension documents and the efforts to get said simple documents changed were so cumbersome it took a full year, with City Hall asking me at one point if I would consider legally changing my name to the mistake as it "would be easier" (not even taking into account the paperwork THAT would involve, as well as canceling bank accounts, opening new ones, getting hanko changed, etc.). Finally they sent me new ones and told me to ignore all the envelopes in red that stated my accounts would be frozen, etc., if I did not pay the full amount immediately, in the mistaken name.

Why is it this guy's fault? Why can't City Hall wait a couple years and the guy demand a bunch of documents be filled out?

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

@ushosh

said they were willing to atone for the sin.

Comedy gold

Don't scoff at "remorse" in front of a court, it seems to be highly regarded to around here. (#sarcasm)

Last month, the town in Yamaguchi prefecture, sent 100,000 yen each to 463 low-income households affected by the pandemic.

But in the process, they mistakenly transferred an additional lump sum of 46.3 million yen to a single household.

463 x 100,000 = 46,300,000 JPY makes it look like the new guy in the dept did a boo-boo in his Excel spreadsheet.

Joke aside, despite all the hankos did nobody notice the error before payment was processed. J-internal controls for you. (note: in my field of work I've been dealing with such nonsense in Japan for 18 years!!! I'm just looking so much forward to retirement...)

3 ( +7 / -4 )

This has been in the local media a few times now. It was reported that the town had around 3500 population, so not that big. A little while ago the city office was able to pay another ¥100,000 to the 463 residents, including the guy who kept the 46 million. Cannot make this stuff up.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I think the recipient is ready to sacrifice his/her life. Probably desperate time desperate measures.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This whole situation is suss. Why didn't the bank used to wire the money just reverse the transaction? Did it really take them that long to realize their mistake? What did the guy do with the money because that is a massive amount of cash to move and surely wherever he moved it to, if it was done electronically, it surely would have raised some flags. This is the Japanese government's lack of investment in IT infrastructure and education coming to bite them in the behind.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

They should search the filing box’s for a copy of his My Number? That should help track down payments, maybe?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wanna put enough pressure on the guy to finally give the people back their money? -- Reveal his identity.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Wow - the person moved the money !!! As noted this is not a small amount - you need to make reservation with the bank to be able to move such an amount.

In the same time when sending few hundred Euros abroad you have to declare you are not money laundering, etc., etc.

I say the bank (or the clerk) who did the first remittance and the following moving out of the account is a suspect!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

well it seems that somebody need to take some extra lessons to know how to use Excel properly...?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just because it’s a small town does not mean there are not criminal geniuses about. I doubt they use Exael other for solitaire? How busy are they with so few residents? Remembering that the city council is the (probably) biggest employer. Or they just don’t give a hoot, how many other rourts are afoot?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It wasn’t possible to freeze his account once the mistake was discovered?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hardly seems worth it for what is not really a life-changing amount of cash these days.

It can be depending how "low income" the recipient is. That kind of money can go a long ways in the deep countryside.

These city officials need to be held accountable too. They can't make these types of mistakes with that type of money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There’s info on Twitter going around about this recipient (guy in his 20s) disappearing with the money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Japanese fax & hanko bureaucracy has ben defied.

Its about time to digitalize the administrations.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Japanese media already reported more details a few days ago.

In April the town moved the experienced person who would have set up this transfer to a new position.

So it was a new person responsible, unaccustomed to this. The bank demanded a floppy disk (!) with the bank details of all the recipients. The notion that someone in City Hall was purposely behind this is ridicuous. But higher level people who will have okayed the transfer obviously didn't do proper checking. The bank said it wasn't up to them to check. Thay just did what they were told to do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's an ongoing flow of incompetence in Japan on many levels.

Its baffling as to why.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Wanna put enough pressure on the guy to finally give the people back their money? -- Reveal his identity.

Yep..it's really suss ... transferred it to another account and it can't be recovered but he will attone for his sins ( and keep the money)? This smells BS....which town bigwig is this " household" connected to?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

They should search the filing box’s for a copy of his My Number? That should help track down payments, maybe?

My number wouldnt work, other than the transfer IN to his bank account. The "My Number" wouldnt work on any further transfers, in this case, and there are huge privacy issues IF it was used, Any funds he transferred out would be on the bank. The bank can not legally release information regarding an account holder's money, unless it was used in a money laundering or illegal scheme, and then only upon official documentation and notification from the public prosecutor. Also the bank probably held his money in escrow for at least a few days, prior to transferring it to another account, due to the large amount involved.

As I noted earlier, there is a hell of a lot of missing information here and it's really strange the office didnt contact the police and press charges. There have been stories in the press here in the past, where banks made huge deposits into wrong accounts, and upon notification, removed the transferred money once the mistake was identified.

The municipal office COULD have stopped it, if they had identified the error in time, but they obviously didnt, and the guy was pretty damn sharp to move the money in the timely manner that he did to.

A timeline of events would surely be helpful in understanding how he managed to do it so fast.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

the recipient admitted having "moved the money and being unable to return

Did anyone look in the bank accounts of the person that " mistakenly" transferred the money or one of their family members?

Something is fishy and it isn't sushi!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

*I think you can be looking at up to 10 years imprisonment with hard labor for either theft or fraud here. No doubt the prosecutor will push for the maximum. *Hardly seems worth it for what is not really a life-changing amount of cash these days.

Ok I get your point about jail and the amount being not worth it.

But sorry Mr. Money bags ¥46 million is definitely life changing for most people.

For one thing my mortgage is gone as would nearly everyone I know, the rest would buy a house.

No more mortgage or rent to pay for the rest of our lives, I call that life changing.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think you can be looking at up to 10 years imprisonment with hard labor for either theft or fraud here. No doubt the prosecutor will push for the maximum. 

Did you happen to notice there has been no mention whatsoever of the prosecutor getting involved? It's a civil case, not criminal.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I have never been comfortable with electronic transfer of money between bank accounts. I still prefer a good old fashioned cheque. A lot safer.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Ok I get your point about jail and the amount being not worth it.

But sorry Mr. Money bags ¥46 million is definitely life changing for most people.

For one thing my mortgage is gone as would nearly everyone I know, the rest would buy a house.

It's a fair point - it would buy you a lot out in the countryside where this occurred. In Tokyo, you'd be lucky to get a pokey old 1DK! What I meant was, even if he could pay off a mortgage or buy a house, it's not like he'll be able to retire in a life of luxury, which is really what you'd need to justify spending any time in prison, and likely pretty much unemployable when you got out.

Did you happen to notice there has been no mention whatsoever of the prosecutor getting involved? It's a civil case, not criminal.

I think I noticed after I posted! Not sure why they can't treat it as a criminal case - it seems to me that a crime has been committed after all! But then I'm no expert in Japanese law!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He hasn't committed a crime as far as I can tell, the police are not involved. I wish the article stated the grounds for their legal action. There was a case in the UK a couple of years ago where someone accidentally paid a fairly large sum of cash via a bank transfer to the wrong person. This person also refused to return the cash eventually kept the cash.

I think the "lucky" guy should return half.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Get the city officials pay it back out of their over-bloated salaries and bonuses, as they are all totally unproductive and don't actually do anything that helps the economy.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I feel sorry for the employee(s) who were responsible for the mixup!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Atone for the sin?" I highly doubt he said anything like that!

Would really love to know where he moved it to and why he is unable to return it, but it sure sounds like he is willing to pay it back at some time or another.

If that is true, then there is no reason for the lawsuit.

I think that means he is willing to take his chances in court, seeing as he didn't actually steal the money but some idiot sent it to him. Worst case he ends up giving the money back.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not sure why people think the courts will give him the right to the money. He didn't earn it, nor was there any reason for it to be his. You can't even keep money you find in Japan without it being theft, so the idea that not giving back 46 million yen would not be theft just shows a clear lack of understanding on how Japan actually works.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The guy, a 24 years old man, who received the money is now hiding. He will be found soon. His name will be made public. His life won't be easy no matter how much money he has.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The guy should be sued for return of the funds. He shouldn’t be doxed or persecuted by the public.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Atone for the sin"

Are they trying to imply that this person is Christian or catholic ?

And where did the funds go?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And when the government issued another round of payments for the community they actually paid him a second time again.

Absolutely pathetic and ridiculous !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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