My apologies for this piece not appearing earlier in the day. Unfortunately, life happens, and I am not yet at the stage where I write and pre-schedule posts weeks in advance. I thought of not writing this post since it was going to be “late”, but then I decided to hold myself accountable and do it anyway.
Also, I would like to remind you that a Block Party is going on as you read this. A few people are already mingling (or herding goats, or plotting against their husbands), so do not be shy and join them once you finish reading this post. Hurry, because it will be concluding in the next day or two.
My annual Block Party is right –> THIS <– way.
Have you ever found money lying in the street? How much was it? What did you do with it?
It is difficult for me to recall the highest amount of cash that I have ever found, but I will make an educated guess and say $20. There was no way for me to know who dropped it, so I ended up pocketing that money. It made my day, even though I know it might have made someone miserable. I lost more in foreign currency, though. Probably an equivalent of $100. It was not my happiest day.
Have you ever thought about what you would do if you were to win the lottery?
We probably all have. A car, a house, a tropical destination. Would it not be nice?
Imagine waking up one day, going to the ATM to withdraw $20, looking at your account balance and seeing that you are $120,000 richer than the day before. What would you do? My initial response was that things like this do not happen. However, if I were to give in and imagine, I would probably spend some on traveling, help some people pay their debts and maybe buy a car. The rest would probably be invested. Unfortunately, the logical and pragmatic me comes back rather quickly and prevents the fun-loving me from spending a single dollar.
“It is not yours. You cannot spend it” – I would tell myself.
“But why not? It is in MY account. Maybe one of those African Kings finally came through and shared their wealth with me?” – I would argue.
“It is a mistake. An error. Things like this do not happen, and you know it” – I would respond.
“You are probably right” – I would concede and call my bank to investigate the mystery funds.
This is the way I would react because of the way I was brought up – to be cynical about anything that appears to be too good to be true and to know that some things just do not happen in nature. However, a couple in Pennsylvania acted differently and spent $120,000 that mysteriously appeared in their account one day.
“That is awesome” – you might think.
“More power to them” – I said when I first read that article.
Unfortunately, the couple is now in trouble with the law.
“Why? What did they do?” – you might be wondering.
I was wondering as well. Turns out, the couple in question did nothing wrong. Well, aside from spending money that was not theirs.
“But it was in THEIR account” – I argue.
Exactly. The couple did not steal it, and yet they are being treated like thieves.
They woke up one day and noticed their bank account was more abundant than they remembered, so they cashed in on their luck and spent their money on bills, cars, a camper, and more. They also shared $15,000 with their friends. Good people!
It turns out that money landed in their account due to a clerical error. (How scary is that?) They were able to keep spending their small fortune for over two weeks before the “error” was noticed. At that point, the bank called to notify the female that the missing money has been deducted from the account, leaving them with a hefty overdraft fee of $107,416 to be paid. Because the couple did not cooperate with the bank, the police got involved, and the couple was arraigned last week on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.
A quick browser search tells me that no, you cannot keep the money that mysteriously appears in your account (unless it was meant directly for you), that once a mistake is spotted, it will be rectified, leaving you to pay potential overdraft charges. If the sum is high enough, you might face criminal charges.
How is that fair? Maybe a long lost aunt passed away on the other side of the world, and you received all her wealth? Perhaps you have a secret admirer/ angel, who wanted to share their wealth with you.
If I wanted to deposit money into someone’s account, yet the fund went elsewhere, I would have been furious. Naturally, I would have wanted the money delivered appropriately. However, if the money went to someone else and they spent it, I would not blame these people one bit. It was the bank’s error (the teller’s in this case). Should we not teach people to take responsibility? Why would we punish those that are not at fault? To me, the bank is at fault. It should be the bank that takes on the responsibility. Internally, they can do whatever they want with their employee who messed things up, but externally, they should be the ones held accountable.
Even though I would probably call the error in, I would conduct an investigation of my own. What if someone DID intend the funds for me? What if I informed the bank of the extra funds and they could not figure out where the funds came from? Would you trust them to do the right thing? I would not.
Last week I received multiple alerts regarding fraudulent activity on my Debit Card. Thankfully, it got caught quickly and, aside from having to get a new card, there were no adverse consequences for me. Money disappearing from my account is much more probable than random money appearing in it.
What would you do if you saw $120,000 in your account on top of the money you had before?
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