A support carer mistakenly overpaid almost $70,000 by Ministry of Health bosses spent the cash before fleeing to his Russian homeland, with a sandy stopover in Rarotonga on the way.
Anatoliy Burzakov, 41, blew the money mistakenly paid to him in just five weeks.
The Russian national was caught only when he returned to New Zealand a year later.
He will be sentenced in the Christchurch District Court next month after pleading guilty to one charge of theft, amounting to $68,900.
Police caught up with him in March last year.
Burzakov was legitimately providing carer support for a Christchurch client. His job was to give the fulltime carer of a disabled client a break from the emotionally taxing task.
In December 2010, his wages bounced back to his employers, the Ministry of Health, because the account number was wrong.
He passed on corrected bank details, but during the process of updating his new account, the processing staff member accidentally amended a care organisation's details by replacing them with Burzakov's personal bank details.
He was then paid $12,913.60 on four separate occasions, and $17,246.18 on a fifth, between February 15 and March 29, 2011.
The error was uncovered only after the care organisation queried why it had not been paid, but by then Burzakov had already spent up large and skipped the country.
He stopped off at Rarotonga for a holiday before returning to his native Russia.
A statement of facts confirms: "The defendant continued to spend the funds at a quick rate and by the time the error was identified the defendant had spent nearly all of the money that was deposited into his account."
When he was finally caught on March 13 last year, he admitted that he had knowingly spent the money that was not owed to him "in the weeks and months following the payments".
"Why he's made the decision to return to New Zealand, I have no idea," a well-placed source said.
Burzakov has been working in Christchurch as a painter but is now off with a fractured shoulder.
He was due to be sentenced yesterday but the hearing was adjourned by Judge Paul Kellar until September 5.
Defence counsel Claire Yardley said she would be asking for Burzakov, remanded on bail to a Christchurch address, to be spared a jail sentence.