NROP: Free money – How would you spend $120,000 without getting into trouble?

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. 

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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.

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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? 

Stay golden,

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39 thoughts on “NROP: Free money – How would you spend $120,000 without getting into trouble?

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  1. As I’m currently working in banking this was of great interest. The reason they’re in trouble is because they decided NOT to make any effort to pay it back so in effect, robbed the bank.
    I can’t believe that in this day and age you wouldn’t investigate strange money in your account before spending it. I’d actually be very worried that the FBI or some other feds would be on my doorstep thinking it was money laundering or worse. Since the Patriot Act there has been far more tracking of large sums of money changing hands so this wouldn’t have gone unnoticed long. All of that aside, you know if you’re expecting money or not. You know if your payroll is due to hit and you know roughly how much it will be. If the error deducted 120 thousand you’d be screaming blue bloody murder so if you don’t when it goes the other way then you get what you deserve.
    These people stole. That’s all there is to it. If a cashier gives you too much change in a store and you realise but don’t say anything that’s stealing too.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. The answer is, they don’t spend it in the first place! They didn’t pay off all their debt either so all of that has a bearing. If I got a lottery win or something my first step would be paying off every bill/credit card I have etc.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The article said they spent some money on bills and car repairs, which made me think that they used the money somewhat reasonably before spending it on other “accesories”.
          But you’re right – do the right thing.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. If I saw that amount of money in MY account, I would do nothing. Just leave it there. My personal experience – school tuition that should have been sent to my school from my employer went to my bank account. I received a DOUBLE amount.

    I sent the school what they were looking for, but I still had money in my account, lots of it. Hey the bill was paid, right? Well yes but about two weeks later my job called me asking for that extra money. They wanted to know why I had it. (like the deposit was my fault) My answer ” I thought it was for the next semester.” (This was true thinking on my part, along with thoughts of what I could do with it)

    Long story short I just gave it back and all was well. Whose fault was it that I had that money? Not me but I bet the clerk that made the error was disciplined. In the case of the couple you mentioned, I bet that clerk was fired since it will be hard to recover the funds.

    If someone wants to give you a sum of money anonymously, they should do so with a note that says it’s yours, otherwise it may not be yours for long.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh, wow. SO things like this aren’t so rare, I see. Thanks for sharing your personal tale. I kind of blame digital banking and direct deposit. Back in the day, you’d get a paper paycheck, so you could see right away if there was anything wrong with it (more or less). Nowadays, it just goes to your account and some people don’t pay attention to it (Sometimes they receive less than they should have.).

      Like

      1. Yes. And think about cyber crime when a company or person steals .25 or .50 cents from hundreds of thousands of accounts. I wouldn’t check what the fee was for on such a small amount. (I Should but just being honest) This is another digital banking problem.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A fool looses money, a wise person grows money. Have you ever heard of “the curse of the lottery”? People claim that winning the lottery destroyed their lives.

    I’ve never won the lottery, so I am ignorant on the validity of the claim. I would say, that I would verify its authenticity if a large amount of money suddenly appeared in my account. I would hate to be in debt due to an urge and an inability to plan accordingly.

    I think priorities and discipline and principles help when managing money, regardless of where it came from.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Everyone seems so reasonable. But wouldn’t you feel a twinge of: “Let’s have some fun? This is my lucky day!”? I know I would. Even if I didn’t succumb to it, I would still think about “what if”.

      Yes, there are plenty of lottery related stories. I’d like to think I’d be different. But you definitely have to be careful.

      Priorities, discipline and principles indeed. Well said.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re not. Maybe they should have looked into it more, but ultimately it’s not their fault that someone put the money in their account. The bank won’t refund your money if you’ve transferred it for a scam. Yeah, they should return it when they can. If they can. Make a repayment plan. Not because they have to. They shouldn’t have to. Because it would be the right thing to do. I don’t know 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I wouldn’t start spending it! This has happened before ~ it’s been in the news. Unlike in Monopoly, you don’t get to keep a “bank error in your favor.” They will find it and fix it. At the least, Uncle Sam would like to know where a sudden influx of cash came from and what will you say then? Uhhh…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I would call the bank as soon as I discovered the money to find out where it came from. Morally what they did was wrong and they even admitted knowing the money did not belong to them. I don’t know if they are criminally responsible but I hope they saved some money to pay a lawyer.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Some questions I have are: Is there any language in there agreement with the bank that addresses this sort of thing? How was the deposit made (in person? digitally?) Was there a receipt issued for the transaction? Does the bank carry liability insurance to cover such errors? Would FDIC cover something like this or is that just if a bank goes under?
        Your posts are always thought provoking.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m way too inclined to take a picture of it and then report it to cops and laugh it off with friends and coworkers (especially considering my field of study). It sure would make life so much easier with so much money landing on our lap though. I’d definitely want that with no string attached just to help everyone I care about get out of any dept trouble and then reward myself by paying off rent or something hahah

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 15.000 USD to friends?
    I wonder who would actually do that.
    If you have anything near brain activity, you would try to keep this private. Or am I crazy?
    Haven’t they ever heard of “give one finger and they will take the whole hand”.

    It would be interesting to find out if these so called friends gave them the money back….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If there was a large sum of money that just appeared in my bank account one day, I’d treat it as suspect. Errors happen all the time, and once caught, whomever made the error will rectify it. It’s better to call the bank or go into their branch and inquire about where it came from. Chances are, there was a mistake in the account number, routing number, etc… It’s better to play it safe than to get stuck in debt once that money is pulled. As for cash, that’s a whole different story. The temptation will be greater, and there will be no digital trails. The problem then would be “washing” the money if one decided to keep it.

    Is keeping it right or wrong? If one knows it belongs to someone else, then it’s wrong to keep it (Seeing someone drop cash, knowing that funds deposited into your account mistakenly, etc.). But if it’s something just laying there with no clue as to who dropped it and nowhere to return it, then that’s slightly different. Would it be so wrong if that person is in need and the found cash would indeed be an answer to some of their problems? Still, it’s best to hang onto it and make an effort in searching for who may have lost it just in case, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hahaha if I once found an unexpected amount in my bank account, I contacted my bank to check if there were any errors and they said they would check and advised me not to spend the money while they verified with the depositor; later it turned out that it was payment for a freelance project I had done sometime back and totally written off as the firm had seemed like they were not going to pay up after numerous enquiries, one of the lessons I learnt then was to always have a written contract for freelance projects because people will tell you that nope we never agreed to pay we thought it was for honour of seeing your name associated with us.
    I am a law abiding citizen so yeah wouldnt spend mysterious funds in my account till I knew they had a right to be there.
    ~B

    Like

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Rachael Ritchey

Worlds of Fiction

from famine to feast

recovery and growth, things that interest me, occasional deep-thoughts, and semi-regular poetry

Skeptical Heartism

Views from a skeptical heart

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