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Man who took entire town’s COVID-19 money now out of jail and turning life around

A rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-Internet-fame story.

Everyone probably remembers the incident earlier this year in which a single man was accidentally issued an amount of COVID-19 relief money equal to that intended for every citizen of Abu Town, Yamaguchi Prefecture. After discovering the 46.3 million yen (US$345,000) in his bank account from him, Sho Taguchi very quickly began placing bets with almost all of it at an online casino, and then disappeared for a while.

While a lawyer skillfully managed to wrangle most of the money back to the town government, Taguchi was still on the hook for charges of fraudulent use of a computer and has been in jail ever since.

However, on 1 August he was released on bail and made a very memorable walk from the police stationduring which he appeared to have done an impromptu Cousin It cosplay.

▼ Yes, a mighty wind was blowing on that day…the wind of change!

Taguchi later explained that while people in prison are given haircuts, such a luxury is not available in jail, so his locks got a little out of hand during his two-and-a-half months in lock-up.

Nevertheless, he was a free man for the time being and released a statement through his lawyer that said: “I am very sorry that I have caused trouble to many people with my actions. After I am released on bail, I will work and pay back the money I took, little by little.”

This just leaves the questions of how he could afford the bail and who is going to hire a suspected fraudster that made international headlines. The answer to both of those questions is: Hikaru.

Hikaru is a very popular YouTuber in Japan, who has also spawned something of a media empire with his success. It turns out that during his windswept release, Taguchi walked right off the news cameras and right onto Hikaru’s camera inside the car.

▼ This very long video shows Hikaru drive to the police station, pick up Taguchi, and then interview him (the video is cued to the moment they pull into the police station)

For those unfamiliar with the famous YouTuber, Hikaru is a self-made millionaire who started out in a factory, but after dealing with power harassment, quit and got into the sometimes dodgy business of “johoshozai” or “information products.” This is where people sell a book or seminar with a promise of secrets to “earning millions a year” or “strengthening your memory in five days,” but since they’re secrets you can’t know what they are until you pay up and — as often is the case — are disappointed when they don’t work.

Hikaru made a killing in information products, but had ethical problems with the work, so he quit that too. Instead, he took the money he accumulated, along with his natural resourcefulness from him, to YouTube, where he now uses his financial and creative powers for good, by exposing fraudulent businesses and creating interesting content.

Perhaps Hikaru’s own background is why he took a liking to Taguchi and saw him as a generally good person who just made some bad choices early in his life. In addition to bailing him out of jail, Hikaru also allows him up with employment at one of his related businesses which allows him to work remotely, since he’s not allowed to leave Yamaguchi. He will first be required to undergo training in computer skills and business etiquette and prove his reliability to the company before working there properly.

▼ Taguchi will soon be working with QBT, a vendor of low-carb chicken and broccoli meals

Taguchi also set up his own Twitter account on 1 August that chronicles his efforts to turn his life around and work hard to repay the money he owed. Considering the wild ride he’s been on this year, his Twitter feed is an endearingly simple and earnest collection of posts, such as this one where he’s watching YouTube videos to learn how to use Office software on a Mac.

“Buenos dias. Today I will try Word. It’s been since junior high, but I’ll do my best.”

And in yet another unexpected turn in a series of unexpected turns too long to count, Taguchi’s Twitter account exploded in popularity. As of this writing, only four days after he opened his account, he garnered over 90,000 followers, making him a potential influencer if he so desired.

Criminal charges still hang over his head, but it looks like Sho Taguchi is well on his way to not only getting out of the hole he dug for himself, but making an even better life for himself down the road. And more than just helping himself, he could even become an example to others who might have taken a wrong turn in life and feel like there’s no way out.

Source: TV Asahi News, TYS, PR Times, Hachima Kiko, Itai News 1, 2
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: PR Times
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