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Old 09-10-2019, 12:07 PM
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Couple spends $100,000 after bank error


Morons of the day: NOT from Florida!

A Pennsylvania couple was arrested after BB&T accidentally put $120,000 in their account. Instead of notifying the bank, they decided to spend it.

Did they really think the bank wouldn't figure it out? It's not like finding a shopping bag full of cash, it's your account, with your name and address on it and everything. "They'll never know it was us!"

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/09/us/ba...rnd/index.html
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:16 PM
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I ran across this a few days ago and the only thing I've heard them say is [her]"All I'll say is that we got some bad legal advice".
I think it's safe to assume their 'legal advice' wasn't from a lawyer, but rather someone (IRL or on the internet) said "If the bank makes a mistake, you get to keep the money".

It seems like with all the stuff they bought, maybe they should have spent the first hundred dollars on a lawyer. Of course, I think most people know you won't get to keep the money, or, at the very least, let it sit there for a few weeks before you spend all of it.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:18 PM
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I ran across this a few days ago and the only thing I've heard them say is [her]"All I'll say is that we got some bad legal advice".
I think it's safe to assume their 'legal advice' wasn't from a lawyer, but rather someone (IRL or on the internet) said "If the bank makes a mistake, you get to keep the money".

It seems like with all the stuff they bought, maybe they should have spent the first hundred dollars on a lawyer. Of course, I think most people know you won't get to keep the money, or, at the very least, let it sit there for a few weeks before you spend all of it.
I bet their "legal advice" was a Monopoly card - "Bank Error in your favor - collect $100".
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:22 PM
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I ran across this a few days ago and the only thing I've heard them say is [her]"All I'll say is that we got some bad legal advice".
I wouldn't be shocked if 100 people had told them to report it, but they only heard the one person who said "It's yours!"
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:33 PM
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I bet their "legal advice" was a Monopoly card - "Bank Error in your favor - collect $100".
Well see, if the bank error was in the form of a teller handing you an extra couple of bills when you made a cash withdrawal, as depicted on the Community Chest card in Monopoly, there would be no paper record of it. This... Not so much.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:34 PM
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Many years ago, the weekly payroll of the local School System got deposited into my checking account.

I just happened to go to the ATM after the deposit and the balance was like 167,000 dollars, about 100x what I expected to be. I didn't give it much thought, maybe I misread the balance on the screen.

When I balanced my checkbook a couple weeks later, I saw the deposit and later WD and made an inquiry. I was angry that I was not contacted by the bank, to explain the error.

FWIW, it happened again the next month
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:41 PM
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I wonder if there's any way to take advantage of something like that -- could a Swiss bank make that money "disappear" untraceably?
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:44 PM
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I wonder if there's any way to take advantage of something like that -- could a Swiss bank make that money "disappear" untraceably?
Maybe, but that wouldnít erase the fact that the bank knows, for sure, it WAS in your account at some point, and now itís not, even if they canít find where it is now.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:57 PM
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Reminds me of this awesome story where a guy deposits a "fake" check from a junk mailer, and penis ensues.

http://www.contrarie.com/guy-deposit...ank-cashes-it/
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:58 PM
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Maybe, but that wouldnít erase the fact that the bank knows, for sure, it WAS in your account at some point, and now itís not, even if they canít find where it is now.
Sure, but can they make that stick to you if you never transferred it in, either? Imagine if through no action of yours, maybe even while you were away camping with no internet or phone for a week, a huge, unsolicited deposit was put into your account, "in error," and a day or so later, transferred out to some other account they now cannot verify or track down, just as plausibly without your knowledge or consent as the initial mystery deposit. How could you be held liable?

In this case the money was obviously used by the account holders in question, to pay bills, make cash gifts, pay for purchases in their name (like a car), and so on.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:59 PM
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I wonder if there's any way to take advantage of something like that -- could a Swiss bank make that money "disappear" untraceably?
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Originally Posted by Leaper View Post
Maybe, but that wouldnít erase the fact that the bank knows, for sure, it WAS in your account at some point, and now itís not, even if they canít find where it is now.
And you would still owe it back, in full.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:03 PM
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Reminds me of this awesome story where a guy deposits a "fake" check from a junk mailer, and penis ensues.
Are you sure that's the word you wanted to use there?
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:06 PM
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And you would still owe it back, in full.
Obviously... I'm just musing about whether it'd be possible to get away with it by claiming "we didn't move any money" and the bank not being able to prove that they did.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:07 PM
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I wonder if there's any way to take advantage of something like that -- could a Swiss bank make that money "disappear" untraceably?
Probably the best you could do is transfer it immediately into a high interest savings account. When the bank finally figures it out (the later the better), you transfer them back the original amount. You keep the interest.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:40 PM
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A deposit of $1000 was made to my SILs acct. He didn't do it, he asked everyone who might like him enough to give him a gift. No one admitted to it. The bank only had 'cash' deposit into his acct.in their records. He sat on it for a long time. Eventually he spent it.
The mystery has never been solved.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-10-2019 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:51 PM
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And you would still owe it back, in full.
Not only that, they were charged overdraft fees of $107,000. I wonder how they raised their $25,000 bail?
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:00 PM
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I ran across this a few days ago and the only thing I've heard them say is [her]"All I'll say is that we got some bad legal advice".
I think it's safe to assume their 'legal advice' wasn't from a lawyer, but rather someone (IRL or on the internet) said "If the bank makes a mistake, you get to keep the money".
You mean to tell me what I learned way back when on the elementary school playground, "Finders keepers, losers weepers" is not legal advice?


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Not only that, they were charged overdraft fees of $107,000.
The funds were in their account when they made the various withdrawals. If they reversed the deposit current day, they should have few, if any, overdraft fees (except for the one big amount) but by backdating the reversal of the deposit the bank could create all of the overdraft fees. I also wonder how they got so high. Even if each overdraft fee was $100 they didn't make that many 1000+ withdrawals did they? They bought some large ticket items which means there wasn't that much money left to withdraw.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:13 PM
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Are you sure that's the word you wanted to use there?
Old SDMB joke. So old, I can't even find the original reference.

ETA:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...41&postcount=2

Last edited by Ravenman; 09-10-2019 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:26 PM
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I've seen news reports of similar bank errors and criminal charges aren't unusual if the recipients spends the money.

Finders keepers doesn't apply anymore.

Even money recovered from the street (dropped from a truck) has to be returned.

I don't have much sympathy for these morons. Best they can do is sell the stuff they bought and return as much of the money as possible. It'll take years to pay off the rest.

I'm assuming it's in the bank's interest not to actually lock these people up. They'll never get their money back that way.

Last edited by aceplace57; 09-10-2019 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:58 PM
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Banks are insured, I hear.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:29 PM
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Banks are insured, I hear.
So am I, but I still want someone who steals from me prosecuted and my money returned.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:37 PM
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The funds were in their account when they made the various withdrawals. If they reversed the deposit current day, they should have few, if any, overdraft fees (except for the one big amount) but by backdating the reversal of the deposit the bank could create all of the overdraft fees.

It wasn't over $100K in overdraft fees
Quote:
He added that the withdrawal resulted in a $107,416 overdraft because the couple’s bank account had only $1,121 in it before the accidental windfall.
The $107,416 overdraft included the money the couple spent.

If I deposit $100K in a bank account with a balance of $1000, write a single check for that $100K and then that $100K deposit is reversed after the bank paid out on the check, I will have a $99K overdraft plus whatever the overdraft fee is.

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Old 09-10-2019, 03:43 PM
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I wonder if there's any way to take advantage of something like that -- could a Swiss bank make that money "disappear" untraceably?
As Leaper said, there is no way to hide the fact that the money went into your account, and now isn't there anymore. Putting it in a Swiss account would be akin to withdrawing the cash in $100 bills and burying it in your backyard - even if the bank physically can't find the money, they know you were its last known destination.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:25 PM
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As Leaper said, there is no way to hide the fact that the money went into your account, and now isn't there anymore. Putting it in a Swiss account would be akin to withdrawing the cash in $100 bills and burying it in your backyard - even if the bank physically can't find the money, they know you were its last known destination.
Sure... But would they know how it left the account? I'm wondering if the account holders could plausibly claim they know nothing about the money, coming in or going out, and whether there's a way to get it out that the bank couldn't prove they were involved in.

There probably isn't a way. But I thought it would be interesting to ask.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:10 PM
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It wasn't over $100K in overdraft fees
The $107,416 overdraft included the money the couple spent.

If I deposit $100K in a bank account with a balance of $1000, write a single check for that $100K and then that $100K deposit is reversed after the bank paid out on the check, I will have a $99K overdraft plus whatever the overdraft fee is.
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Originally Posted by CNN
Robert and Tiffany Williams of Montoursville are also facing overdraft fees from the bank of about $107,000, according to the criminal complaint filed in the Lycoming County magisterial district court.
This is not the only article that stated it that way. Maybe the first reporter stated it incorrectly & wire services ran with it but the article(s) specifically state overdraft fees, not overdrafted by that amount, which is what you're referring to.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:31 PM
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If the bank ever makes an error on my account (in their favor) can I sue them? Recover extra penalties/damages?

If not, why not ... and why can they, if the situation reversed?

Bank error in their favor, you bet your ass they'll invest it for interest in the meantime. Do you get that money?

If not, why not?
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:58 PM
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This is not the only article that stated it that way. Maybe the first reporter stated it incorrectly & wire services ran with it but the article(s) specifically state overdraft fees, not overdrafted by that amount, which is what you're referring to.
The article I quoted (which I forgot to link in my earlier post) doesn't say "fees" - it says:

Quote:
He added that the withdrawal resulted in a $107,416 overdraft because the couple’s bank account had only $1,121 in it before the accidental windfall.



Funny thing -this refers to a "$107,416 overdraft fee" as reported in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette which actually says "the withdrawl (sic) caused a $107,416 overdraft". I guess reporters don't know the difference between an "overdraft" and "overdraft fees" nowadays But I suspect the Sun-Gazette has it right since it's the local paper. ( and that's what makes sense)

Last edited by doreen; 09-10-2019 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:29 PM
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Sure... But would they know how it left the account? I'm wondering if the account holders could plausibly claim they know nothing about the money, coming in or going out, and whether there's a way to get it out that the bank couldn't prove they were involved in.

There probably isn't a way. But I thought it would be interesting to ask.
Well, arranging a wire transfer to a Swiss bank account requires some paperwork. As this couple doesn't seem to also be an international banking law firm, I doubt they could pull it off anonymously. The low rent way to go would be to go to a mall on Friday and purchase something. Go home and disguise yourself then go back to the mall and do a shopping/cashback spree. On Monday, report the card stolen.

But it's too big a coincidence. The cops and the bank would be all over you like white on rice.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:42 PM
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If the bank ever makes an error on my account (in their favor) can I sue them? Recover extra penalties/damages?

If not, why not ... and why can they, if the situation reversed?

Bank error in their favor, you bet your ass they'll invest it for interest in the meantime. Do you get that money?

If not, why not?
This is a pretty garbled understanding of the situation. The couple isn't being punished because of the bank error. They are in trouble because they went nuts and spent it all. We don't know what would have happened if they had temporarily put it into an easily liquidated investment and paid it back when asked.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:54 PM
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Funny thing -this refers to a "$107,416 overdraft fee" as reported in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette which actually says "the withdrawl (sic) caused a $107,416 overdraft". I guess reporters don't know the difference between an "overdraft" and "overdraft fees" nowadays But I suspect the Sun-Gazette has it right since it's the local paper. ( and that's what makes sense)
We're on the same page that it should be they were overdrafted by that amount & not had overdraft fees of that huge amount...OTOH, what some banks charge you for an overdraft these days!
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:52 PM
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Reminds me of this awesome story where a guy deposits a "fake" check from a junk mailer, and penis ensues.

http://www.contrarie.com/guy-deposit...ank-cashes-it/
Back in the days of scrambled porn, the very softcore "Escapade" channel had a movie where this kind of thing was the "plot." He would tell women how much money he had in his account, and their clothes would just fall right off.



("That's not how any of this works.")
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:22 PM
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This is a pretty garbled understanding of the situation. The couple isn't being punished because of the bank error. They are in trouble because they went nuts and spent it all. We don't know what would have happened if they had temporarily put it into an easily liquidated investment and paid it back when asked.
Agreed. Arguably, if they had put the money into some interest bearing investment, then they could have returned the principal when the bank realized their error but made a legitimate claim to keeping the interest, since itís not their fault the bank put the money in their account.

The problem lies with not returning something which you know is not yours when the rightful owner demands its return.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:57 AM
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In a broader legal sense, though, how far does this "Finder does not mean keeper" principle apply?

If I order food at Burger King, and the absentminded staff give me two Whoppers instead of just one, am I committing a crime if I eat the extra Whopper? Yes, it's only a four-dollar mistake as opposed to a $100,000 error, but the principle is the same.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:21 AM
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So am I, but I still want someone who steals from me prosecuted and my money returned.
What I meant was the bank will never be the loser. The wronged depositer and the thieves will lose. The banks ass is covered.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:48 AM
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I'm actually not clear on what the crime is that they are being accused of. Anyone know that? On its face, it seems like the banks problem, and not the recipient of the erroneous deposit.
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:12 AM
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I'm actually not clear on what the crime is that they are being accused of. Anyone know that?
A local article says they were charged with theft and receiving stolen property.

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On its face, it seems like the banks problem, and not the recipient of the erroneous deposit.
I don't think it's either-or. It's the bank's problem because they presumably had to pay the money to the correct recipient whether they got it back or not, and it's the couple's problem because they owe money to the bank and now the state wants a pound of flesh too.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 09-11-2019 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:34 AM
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Obviously... I'm just musing about whether it'd be possible to get away with it by claiming "we didn't move any money" and the bank not being able to prove that they did.
My response was to a thread above yours, but a couple of others snuck in before I hit "Enter". I should have quoted...

That said, I can't think of any way to move the money without leaving an audit trail, but then perhaps that's why I'm not a criminal mastermind!

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Banks are insured, I hear.
Banks are insured against theft, but not mistakes.
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If the bank ever makes an error on my account (in their favor) can I sue them?
The answer is "maybe". Most bank agreements have an arbitration clause, so while you may not be able to take the bank to court you can file an arbitration claim. I'll leave the rest of the answesr to the lawyers.

Last edited by Doctor Jackson; 09-11-2019 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:08 AM
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In a broader legal sense, though, how far does this "Finder does not mean keeper" principle apply?

If I order food at Burger King, and the absentminded staff give me two Whoppers instead of just one, am I committing a crime if I eat the extra Whopper? Yes, it's only a four-dollar mistake as opposed to a $100,000 error, but the principle is the same.
Technically, probably (IANAL), but as the judge said when I was arrested for flashing, de minimis non curat lex.

The customer goes to the manager at the grocery store, and says "the cashier gave me the wrong change." The manager points haughtily at a sign saying "All Errors Must Be Reported to the Cashier At the Time of Sale", and says, "sorry, there's nothing to be done."

"OK", says the customer. "I just thought I would mention that the cashier gave me three dollars too much."

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Old 09-11-2019, 10:15 AM
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Technically, probably (IANAL), but as the judge said when I was arrested for flashing, de minimis non curat lex.
Wait! You were arrested for flashing & the judge said, "We don't worry about the little things"...& you repeat that story???
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:25 AM
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Wait! You were arrested for flashing & the judge said, "We don't worry about the little things"...& you repeat that story???
Wooooooooooosh!
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:21 AM
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Sure... But would they know how it left the account? I'm wondering if the account holders could plausibly claim they know nothing about the money, coming in or going out, and whether there's a way to get it out that the bank couldn't prove they were involved in.

There probably isn't a way. But I thought it would be interesting to ask.
I don't know much about international banking, but obviously, if you transferred it out from your end, they would have a record. If you arranged a wire transfer where it is pulled from the account, it seems very unlikely that they would not know where it went. And there could be records of you arranging for the transfer -- phone calls, emails, a Google search for Swiss banks, etc. unless you were exceedingly careful from the start. And, again, not knowing that much about international banking, I'm not sure that a Swiss bank would have the same view of pulling money from an account as it might if you showed up with cash. Accepting a deposit no questions asked may not be a crime. Agreeing to pull money from a US account in a way that is untraceable might subject the 2nd bank to criminal and civil liability of its own.

So, yes it would be a crime for the account holder, I'm guessing it would be traceable or there would at least be enough of a trail to point to the account holder, the 2nd bank might be committing a crime or a tort, and if you lie and say you don't know where the money went you might be committing an additional crime. So, all in all probably a very bad idea.

As for what the legal liability is, it's going to be the crime of theft in most if not all jurisdictions, plus there are civil actions that cover it as well. Think about it this way -- if you park your car in your friend's neighbor's driveway by mistake when you are visiting your friend, does the car become the neighbor's? Other than, perhaps, to move it out of their way (let's say you leave keys in the visor) can they drive it? Could they use it for free to drive for Uber to make money?

The pretty obvious answer to the first 2 questions is no, that would be a crime (and a tort). They can likely have it towed, but can't treat it like it's their property. The third scenario would also be a crime, plus you would probably have additional civil claims based on their using your property to make money.

Anything other than reporting it immediately to the bank and not touching it has high legal risks. Exercising any form of control over it, like transferring it to another account can be a crime and a tort. Even if your intention is to return it promptly when asked to, it may still be a crime, or you might have to rely on being able to convince a jury of your intention, which, again, is pretty risky.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:37 AM
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What I meant was the bank will never be the loser. The wronged depositer and the thieves will lose. The banks ass is covered.
The bank will never be the loser because they wouldn't do something as stupid as the couple did. The analogous situation would be: you see that $100,000 has mysteriously disappeared from your account. You go to the bank and they say they made a mistake. You ask them to correct it and they say, "sorry, we spent that money; we don't have it any more". In that situation the bank would absolutely be in big trouble.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:41 AM
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Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake:

"A person who comes into control of property of another that he knows to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property or the identity of the recipient is guilty of theft if, with intent to deprive the owner thereof, he fails to take reasonable measures to restore the property to a person entitled to have it."

18 Pa.C.S.A. section 3924

The tort I'm primarily thinking of is conversion. Moving money to an interest bearing account with the intention of using it to generate interest, and the intention of keeping the interest, is likely conversion. There may be other civil claims that also apply.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:04 PM
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I wonder how much of that $15000 they gave to friends will be paid back to help the couple pay the bank?
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
What I meant was the bank will never be the loser. The wronged depositer and the thieves will lose. The banks ass is covered.
Actually the bank (its shareholders) *is* a loser if the stupid couple can't pay back what they owe or can't for years, time value of money, which seems likely. Because the bank definitely cannot tell the rightful owner of the money 'sorry, we can't give you back your money because in the meantime we gave it to the wrong person and they spent it'. The bank still owes the rightful depositor the money, and that depositor could absolutely take the bank to court in the far fetched scenario where the bank tried to give an excuse like that to not pay. And if paying depositors back money the bank had lost drove the bank to insolvency, the FDIC would make whole any depositors who got shorted, up to the applicable limits.

The law is as it is from POV of knuckleheads employing 'finders keepers' as a blanket legal axiom in part as a logical result of the principal that banks aren't released from their liabilities by mistakenly giving the money to the wrong person. The integrity of the system would be compromised by saying errors by bank employees were strictly the problem of the bank's owners or particular depositors or (if big enough) all depositors if the people erroneously receiving the money, and who had to know it was an error, were free to squander it.

Last edited by Corry El; 09-11-2019 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:40 PM
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As far as withdrawing the money anonymously (or however the suggestion was worded), folks seem to forget that banks have cameras EVERYWHERE and they are of remarkable resolution. Since damned near everything is done electronically now, the date stamp on the camera video and the transaction from the pertinent teller window are all plenty evidence to indicate "who done what."

In the past when stupendous errors like this have occurred, smart people have "borrowed" the funds to place in a very short-term interest bearing account. The bank has then successfully sued for the interest, because the mistaken recipient did not have permission to use the money.

No doubt, the bank's legal team will sue for and receive a money judgment against the stupid people. They will discover that tax refunds and bank account balances will vanish like smoke for a long time to come.


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  #47  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:21 PM
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Wooooooooooosh!
Not a Woosh at all; I just wouldn't go around stating that I was suffering from a case of smallcox. The joke works as well changing "I" to "my roommate", leaving someone else to be pointed to & laughed at.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
Actually the bank (its shareholders) *is* a loser if the stupid couple can't pay back what they owe or can't for years, time value of money, which seems likely. Because the bank definitely cannot tell the rightful owner of the money 'sorry, we can't give you back your money because in the meantime we gave it to the wrong person and they spent it'. The bank still owes the rightful depositor the money, and that depositor could absolutely take the bank to court in the far fetched scenario where the bank tried to give an excuse like that to not pay. And if paying depositors back money the bank had lost drove the bank to insolvency, the FDIC would make whole any depositors who got shorted, up to the applicable limits.
You do realize how little of a depositors money a bank is using? They can make loans/investments basically ten times total deposits & that, collectively, banks made $60 billion last quarter; the time value of getting repaid over years is a fraction of a drop in the bucket to them.
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:32 PM
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I bet their "legal advice" was a Monopoly card - "Bank Error in your favor - collect $100".
Or their self-proclaimed attorney cited the landmark court case Finder Keeper v Loser Weeper.
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:41 PM
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One time a friend of mine asked me to deposit into an account I had at a US bank what appeared to be a certified check for $8000. He told that he was suspicious of the check (he never explained why). So I mailed it off to the bank along with a letter describing what my friend had said and asked to be informed when and if the check cleared. Of course I didn't withdraw anything from the account. A month later, the check was returned unpaid and I gave it back to my friend. To my utter astonishment, I got a month's interest on that $8000, which came to a few dollars in those days. My friend explained that for that month, the bank was richer by that money and was able to base a loan on it so it was entirely reasonable that they paid interest. I did keep that money.
  #50  
Old 09-11-2019, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
I wonder if there's any way to take advantage of something like that -- could a Swiss bank make that money "disappear" untraceably?
That would only work if you disappeared abroad too, and you'd need a lot more than a $100K to pull something like that off.
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