Japanese man spends 800k dollars’ worth of embezzled funds on mobile games to become a hero online
A Japanese man was arrested on August 22 on suspicion of employee embezzlement. The man had allegedly embezzled over $1,375,000 from his workplace and claims to have spent a large portion of the money on mobile game in-app purchases. The act itself and the motivation behind it has bewildered users, many of which have taken to figuring out what games he could have poured so much money into.
According to Kobe Shinbun, un unemployed man (43) from Osaka city was arrested and handed over to the prosecution for allegedly embezzling a total of approximately 200 million yen (over $1,375,000) from his previous workplace, a Japanese company that manages supermarkets called Ace. Apparently, the man had been in the position of deputy manager of Ace’s accounting department and had been gradually pocketing company funds from the period between September 2017 and May 2023 by making transactions from his company’s deposit account to a dormant bank account via internet banking.
Over the course of the six-year period, the suspect had made 171 transactions in this way, withdrawing the money after each transfer. Upon the arrest, the man reportedly admitted to the charges, offering the explanation, “I wanted to make my game account stronger so that others online would recognize me.” It would seem that an excessive need to seek validation from the online community fueled the large-scale financial crime.
Out of the total sum he embezzled, the suspect claims to have spent over $800.000 on online game in-app purchases, around $140.000 on adult entertainment, drinking and travelling with female colleagues, and between $140.000 and $200.000 on buying stocks. (Kyodo)
Reactions of the public to the incident were full of disbelief – the scale of the crime and the time it took for it to be discovered are shocking enough, but the way the man decided to use the embezzled money is the hardest thing for everyone to wrap their heads around in this story. The man’s actions have earned him the nickname “The Ace of In-app Purchases” (taking a jab at his previous company’s name), ironically giving him online-recognition, albeit not of the kind he had wished for.
Gamers are particularly interested in the incident, with many dying to know just what game it was that the man could have spent such a fortune on. For most games one can think of, it’s hard to imagine how one could keep benefitting from in-app purchases after going beyond a certain point. Users made various guesses, but it seems that one of the leading nominees is Korean MMORPG Lineage: 2 Revolution. Users have constructed a theory that when taking in mind the time frame of the crime and sum of money, this game is a likely choice. And truly, this title is known for the huge revenue it pulls through in-app purchases, with there being players surpassing $1 million in total purchases.
At any rate, regardless of what title was in question, the mechanic of making yourself stand out by making purchases works similarly in most such games, and the thrill of being able to stand out and be recognized in a community in such a fast and effortless way surely can have an addictive effect on some, as was likely the case with the “Ace of in-app purchases.”