The Man Who Gambled Away An Accidental $360,000 COVID Relief Payment
As the novel coronavirus ran roughshod over the world, various governments issued stimuli to keep their citizens housed and safe. The size and true effectiveness of these payments can be debated, especially here in the United States, but there is one man, in Japan, that had to be beyond happy with his government payout. The reason for that is that this particular man received a massive, erroneous stimulus amount from his town due to a clerical error. What was the exact extent of the error? It was to the tune of 46.3 million yen, which is equivalent to around 360,000 American dollars.
Pretty significant. Yeah, we’re not talking about an extra zero on a 600 dollar payout here, even though that would be plenty nice. We’re talking about lottery win numbers. Set for years especially with some smart investing numbers. If 360,000 dollars suddenly hit my bank account suddenly, I’m not sure what I would do. I’m not even sure my bank account is allowed to go that high. I feel like having over $100,000 in your checking account probably requires some sort of premium plan.
Now obviously, when the government gets confused and accidentally leaves a life-changing amount of money in your personal checking account, there’s always the chance that they’ll, well, figure out that they did that. We’re not even going to get into the moral argument of whether a deposit like that should be reported to the authorities because that is the deepest narc s**t I’ve ever heard in my life. Who are you, Captain America? Do you think they’re going to give you a medal? BUT, it would be smart to make sure you still have it in case they come knocking.
Personally, if I was the beneficiary of such a dramatic financial windfall, here’s what I would do: I would take that $360,000, and invest it in the safest index fund I could find, or just put it in a high-yield savings account, if I can find one of those that actually still exists. Let it sit in there and percolate, build up some interest. Once the government realizes they did a big stinky, and show up demanding 360,000, no problem, I’d be happy to give it back. But that sweet sweet interest? That is all, as they say, for daddy.
This is extremely not what the Japanese man that actually received this erroneous bounty did. Not even close. What he did, with the yen raining down from above, was decide to… gamble with it. Yup. The thing that can be irresponsible and life-ruining even with money that’s actually YOURS. In the absolute best light, maybe he was trying to enact some sort of plan similar to above, where he could win more money and then only have to pay back the original amount. But as they say, “never gamble more than you can afford to lose” and $360,000 of the government’s money is so, so much more than you can afford to lose. To look at it in the most depressing light perhaps he was naturally a gambling addict, which is very sad, and the government just accidentally chose the absolute worst bank account to spill their coffers into.
Unfortunately, we don’t have information on what type of gambling specifically the man blew his sudden fortune on, but good god, I hope it was at least poker, or blackjack, or craps, or some sort of game with an actual snowball’s chance in hell of seeing returns. If this guy dumped $360k into a god damned slot machine I’m going to burst a blood vessel in my eye. You lost a third of a million dollars trying to line up 5 Chandlers on the FRIENDS slots? You should go to jail AND math class.
Even worse, they were ONLINE casinos. C’mon dude. If you’ve decided to go to debtor’s prison for temporary high roller status, at LEAST go to a brick and mortar casino so you can enjoy it. Buy a suit. Have a Czech lady blow on the dice. Live the high life. Don’t just click your way into an endless hole while wearing basketball shorts and sipping a flat Diet Coke. Now, after some brief research, it seems that gambling is illegal in Japan with very few exceptions, but here’s the thing: you have $360,000 that you, for better or worse, have decided to spend. Buy a plane ticket. Go to Vegas. Sit in first class and rat to the flight attendant when one of the peasants in the back tries to use the rich people bathroom up front.
Now, I mentioned above that gambling is illegal in Japan. You might be wondering how he was able to gamble online if that was the case. Well, you are right to wonder that, and unfortunately, the answer is that he… was gambling on overseas online gambling sites. Come on, man, help me out a LITTLE bit here. So now, not only do you not have the money when the feds come knocking, but when they start looking into what you actually did with it, they’re going to find out you DID A CRIME? Sure, overseas online gambling is a famously amorphous thing in terms of actual prosecution, but you may have found the absolute most definitive way to establish a clear paper trail.
The man’s lawyer says that he is “unlikely to be able to return the money.” Yeah, we figured. I’m not even really sure what the path forward would be here. Does the guy have to work for the government for free cleaning statues for the rest of his life? Does he pay off his debt via jail time? Though, if it’s jail time, I would be curious to know how long it’s for. I mean, if you only have to spend a year in a Japanese jail for 360,000? Plus, now you’re not paying rent? Might not be the worst deal in the world.