The mystery businessman who put up a reward for information about missing British hostess Lucie Blackman has upped the ante — increasing the reward to a cool half a million pounds, more than 77 million yen.

The British entrepreneur, who refuses to reveal his identity, contacted The Japan Times to announce that he is increasing the fund “in an effort to track down Lucie and reunite her with her family.”

Lucie, a 22-year-old former British Airways flight attendant from Sevenoaks in Kent, was working as a hostess at the Casablanca club in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment district before she disappeared on July 1. She has not been seen since.

“This has gone on long enough,” the man said. “Lucie has been missing for nearly three months now, and her family must be frantic.

“I hope the reward is now big enough to tempt anyone who knows where she is — and they are out there — to come forward,” he said. “Half a million pounds is a lot of money in anybody’s language.”

The man said he is disappointed that the initial reward of 100,000 pounds, more than 15 million yen, was not sufficient to lead to a breakthrough in the case, but he feels so strongly about Lucie’s disappearance — and the increasing desperation of her family — that he “could not just sit by and let this terrible thing drag on.”

The new reward will be added to the money put up by the Blackman family, bringing the total in the “fighting fund” to nearly 79 million yen.

“I’ve got kids of my own, and I know what the Blackman family must be going through,” the man told The Japan Times. “We can’t simply allow people to disappear like this; we have got to make something happen, and we have to get Lucie back.”

Sophie Blackman, who was in Tokyo recently to continue the hunt for her sister, expressed her gratitude to the unknown man.

“We are elated as a family that there are still people who have genuine offers of generosity and kindness, and we hope this offer from our mysterious businessman will bring my sister back,” she said.

The Blackmans are asking anyone with information that might be useful to the investigation to call (090) 8113-5830.

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