Commerce Bank Accidentally Gives You $5 Million

Commerce Bank accidentally deposited $5 million into Benjamin Lovell’s account. He spent $2 million of it and now he’s being charged with grand larceny.

Benjamin Lovell was arraigned Tuesday on grand larceny charges. The 48-year-old salesman said he tried to tell officials at Commerce Bank in December that he did not have a $5 million account.

Lovell said he was told it was his and he could withdraw the money.

Prosecutors said the bank — which advertises itself as America’s Most Convenient Bank — confused Lovell with a Benjamin Lovell who works for a property management company.

The lesser-funded Lovell gave away some of the withdrawn money and blew some of it on gifts, but lost much of it on bad investments, prosecutors said.

As much as this sucks, if your bank deposits someone else’s money in your account… don’t spend it. Really. It’s not yours.

NYC Bank Lets Wrong Man Withdraw $2M [SFGate] (Thanks, John!)
(Photo:piffy)

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  1. Illusio26 says:

    Did he really think no one would notice a missing 5 million?

  2. viqas says:

    he should have put it in his savings account.

  3. wdnobile says:

    Well, if they told him “no its yours, spend it” he MIGHT have a case. But, in all likelyhood, he’s screwed.

  4. shan6 says:

    Temptation is a bitch I suppose. He should have done the honest thing right off, but I definitely understand how one could be swayed into going on a spending spree.

  5. shan6 says:

    which advertises itself as America’s Most Convenient Bank
    Grand larceny is not, however, convenient.

  6. weakdome says:

    Sucks. No one would ever confuse my last name with another one. There aren’t any. I’ve checked.

  7. SkyeBlue says:

    If the temptation was just too much for him and he just HAD to spend it the smart thing to have done would have been to have taken ALL the money and left the country, changed his name and started a new life! Preferrably somewhere without an extradition treaty with the US!

    But a guy who just spends PART of the money then sticks around wating to be arrested for spending said money that was not his probably isn’t too smart

  8. darkened says:

    At that point I’d just have said “I’d like to make a withdrawal.”

  9. pmcpa says:

    I don’t know of any bank who wouldn’t look into it when you say, “it’s not my money.” I’m a Commerce Customer (personal and business accounts), and I’m sure they would notice 5 Mill missing in less then a day (they catch my mis-calculated deposit slips in less then 6 hours for $20 or less!). This is a case of BAD CONSUMER!

  10. Falconfire says:

    @shan6: No you know whats not convenient… the fact that in order to deposit a check at any bank OTHER than the one in your area, you need that specific area’s deposit slip. And in order to fix this you have to close the account and open it where your depositing from.

    My fiance has this issue since she moved south to where I live and its god damned annoying. She has to go up to the counter, ASK for the north jersey slips, then fill it out and get back in line to deposit a check because they have a north jersey, central jersey, and south jersey split. And in order to fix it, they told her she had to close her account and open it by us, meaning all her checks and card would be useless since we would have to get new ones.

    No other bank I know in the 21st century is so stupidly managed. The only reason she hasnt pulled her money yet is she cant be bothered to go through the effort yet.

  11. floyderdc says:

    This is my bank, why can’t they do this to me?? I agree with Skyblue if it were me I would be on the first flight to Brazil or something. First class all the way.

  12. Xay says:

    @viqas: Exactly.

  13. Eric1285 says:

    @SkyeBlue: Seriously. $5 Million is more than enough to last the rest of your life. He could have transferred that money to an offshore account, then distributed through various other accounts to make it more difficult to track. Then disappear.

    By the way, who keeps $5 mil in one account? Spread that stuff out to maximize your FDIC insurance coverage in case something like this happens.

  14. K-Bo says:

    This was on fast money last night, and they said he went through 3 levels of management that said it’s yours now, go ahead and spend it.

  15. G0lluM says:

    I heard this story on NPR this morning. According to their coverage, when he discovered the gigantic deposit, he went to the bank and tried to get them to correct the error, but the bank did not believe him. They specifically told him it was his money. IF (and it’s a big IF) he can document that fact, I say he’s got a case. I do believe the bank should get to recover what they can($3 million still left?) but should not be able to press charges for their own incompetence! If I was that sloppy at work, there’d be a price to pay – my job. Corporations have more “rights” than We The People these days.

  16. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    My credit union accidentally deposited $2K into my account years ago. They mailed me a deposit slip and I about fell over. IIRC, they almost immediately caught the mistake.

    I remember an old bag from the credit union telling me on the phone she couldn’t believe I kept the money.

  17. chiieddy says:

    Actually, your summary is wrong.

    The bank actually allowed the guy to withdraw money from SOMEONE else’s account because they thought he was the other guy (same name). Interestingly, your quote was correct.

    They didn’t deposit the money into his account, he actually withdrew it, knowing it was an error, and then spent it.

    There’s no such thing as free money. He had to know they’d figure it out eventually. Likely when the other gentleman realized his life savings was drained.

  18. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @viqas: Would he have been able to keep the interest? If so, that would have been awesome.

  19. shan6 says:

    @K-Bo: I don’t think they really have a case against him if that is true, at some point you have to stop and think “What the hell” right?

  20. weave says:

    Lost most of it on bad investments?

    TWO MILLION DOLLARS IN TWO MONTHS????

  21. friendlynerd says:

    @weave:
    He invested it all in HD-DVD. Sorry, bro.

  22. @Falconfire: How about:

    A. Depositing in the ATM? Then you just have to fill out the envelope.

    B. Goto the drive-through. No getting back in line. Just have them send the correct slip through the tube.

    C. Grab an whole mess of the slips you need, and keep them in your car. I keep a whole bunch of my Sovereign ATM envelopes in my car, and can just whip one out and make a deposit, even if the bank is out of them.

    Just some thoughts.

  23. The FDIC wouldn’t cover this, right? Don’t they only cover deposits up to a certain amount of money that’s not $5 million?

  24. stjoehawk says:

    @weave: But the Patriots seemed like a can’t-lose bet!

  25. K-Bo says:

    @shan6: I agree, but I’ve heard 3 very different stories about what he ended up doing with the money, and how much is left, so its hard to tell whats really going on with the whole fiasco.

  26. jaydez says:

    FDIC covers up to $100,000 per customer per bank.

  27. tmed says:

    Who can’t hide with $5,000,000 and a two month head start?

    Also, why would he have kept the money in Commerce Bank. It clearly was not secure there.

  28. IphtashuFitz says:

    @loquaciousmusic: In a nutshell, FDIC insurance covers up to $100,000 per account.

  29. RandomHookup says:

    “Investment” is just another way of saying “hookers and blow.”

  30. Ariah says:

    @floyderdc: Nah, Brazil has an extradition treaty with us. Russia, on the other hand…

  31. mac-phisto says:

    @loquaciousmusic: this isn’t an fdic issue – the bank’s bonding agent would be responsible for recovering the lost money.

    the fact that a good portion of this money is unrecoverable means a few folks are definitely going to lose their jobs – & commerce bank’s bond premium is going to skyrocket.

  32. mac-phisto says:

    @mac-phisto: not “recovering” – replacing

  33. weave says:

    I’m pretty sure FDIC only covers deposits in case of bank insolvency and closure. You’d think the answer would be found by simply going to the FDIC website, but looking at it, it looks like it’d take hours of poking around and interpreting crap to find out for sure. :(

  34. FLConsumer says:

    Fark Dumbass tag coming in 5…4…3…2…

  35. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    He may not have committed a crime against the bank itself, especially if they insisted it was his account, but he definitely committed a crime against Benjamin Lovell. If I were Benjamin I would consider taking action against the bank too.

    Honestly, why wouldn’t they believe this guy when he said that it wasn’t his account? Did they think he just forgot he had 5 million dollars?

  36. Wow this is so much better than what Wachovia accidentally does, which is call the swat team on you for trying to make a deposit ->
    [www.wltx.com]

  37. NoWin says:

    @mac-phisto: Correct you are!

  38. NoWin says:

    @friendlynerd: Good one!

  39. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @Falconfire: I have the same problem.

    I moved from North Jersey to Central Jersey, and every time I go to Commerce, I need to ask for a North Jersey Deposit slip. If I happen to have one already, and don’t mention it is North Jersey, it takes several tires for the rep behind the counter to notice it.

    It is pretty annoying, and I’m not going to change my account. So I walk up to the counter, ask for what I need (usually more than one slip, as I deal with more than one account), and just stand there at the counter and fill everything out. If I hold up the line, that is Commerce’s problem.

  40. yesteryear says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: yeah… i haven’t read the original story yet – but why wasn’t the other benjamin asking questions when his account was short $5 million?

    also… i’m afraid to ask what the overdraft fees will be. eeek.

  41. alice_bunnie says:

    I would have taken it and put it in a high yield money market or savings account. When they asked for it back, I’d have had the interest! :p

  42. Elcheecho says:

    @jaydez: @IphtashuFitz:
    no, it’s $100,000 per person, no matter how many accounts at how many banks.

  43. theblackdog says:

    If something like this had happened to me, I would get a notarized written statement that I believed this to be an error but the bank swears it is my money.

    Even then, I probably wouldn’t touch it for at least a month.

  44. Elcheecho says:

    @Elcheecho: sorry, per person per bank

  45. esqdork says:

    The next headline on Consumerist will be “Commerce Bank Won’t Compensate Man for Money the Bank Accidently Gave to Someone Else”.

  46. theblackdog says:

    @alice_bunnie: Good idea, even at a crap 1% interest rate like what BofA is offering me, you’d still get about $5,000

  47. thirdeye213 says:

    @friendlynerd: Literally made me LOL. Hard

  48. punkrawka says:

    BoA accidentally added a zero to a $2000 deposit of mine once, but they corrected the mistake before the transaction went from Pending to Cleared. I was disappointed.

    My plan would’ve been to withdraw the difference in a Cashier’s Check, and make BoA go through a protracted legal fight to get it back, costing them more than $18K. But I’m kind of mean :-)

  49. anatak says:

    Shouldn’t Commerce Bank be charged with Grand Stupidity?

    On the other hand, Lovell’s actions say a lot about how we handle money in our society.

  50. digitalhen says:

    the guy did indeed tell them multiple times about their mistake. they said it was his.

    also, he withdrew $1m of it in one transaction on one day, and Commerce didn’t think to perform due diligence? Brilliant!

  51. forgottenpassword says:

    lol they told him it was his! I think he should be in the clear! If they cant tell one lowell from another…. then they are at fault! Even when he tried to tell them it was not his… they told him it was!.

    The bank screwed up!

  52. savvy999 says:

    Let’s brainstorm here, folks.

    What would you do in 2 months, with access to $5M liquid cash– that does *not* involve significant risk the principal (so that the grand larceny charge hopefully doesn’t stick)– in order to make a couple of bucks on the side?

    So the thought experiment is that you can borrow that money for a little while, not blow it. What could/would you do?

    Do a flip on an undervalued mansion? That would at least hopefully have some security (the real estate) behind it. Float it in a money market account? Some very short term bonds?

  53. bonzombiekitty says:

    Just to be clear, the bank didn’t deposit the money into the guy’s account. The bank thought he owned an account that he did not in fact own – sorta like me getting a debit card that’s linked to my neighbor’s account instead of my own.

    Something similar to this happened with my mom once. My aunt has the same full name as her, and she lives about 20 minutes away from us. One day my mom went to the bank to close my brother’s a my savings account (we were 16 and 12 at the time, so she really had control over the accounts). As they closed the the accounts, they asked her if she wanted to close “Keith and Kevin’s” accounts too, which had over a thousand dollars in total in the accounts. My parents have no kids called Keith and Kevin.

    In case you haven’t guessed, Keith and Kevin are my cousins. The bank had put their accounts under my mom’s control rather than my aunt’s. My mom and aunt had to argue with the bank for days before they fixed the problem. Good thing that a.) they are actually family rather than two random people that have the same name, and b.) my family isn’t on bad terms with each other or anything.

  54. cmdr.sass says:

    @Elcheecho: You are incorrect. It is $100,000 per depositor, per institution. In some cases coverage goes to $250,000. You can structure the account ownership of multiple accounts at the same institution to guarantee they are protected by FDIC insurance. A good financial planner or estate attorney can set this up quite easily, although don’t expect anyone at your bank to have a clue.

    [www.fdic.gov]

  55. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I do not believe for a second that this guy went into the bank, explained that he didnt’ have 5 million dollars, and 3 levels of management all told him, “Dude. It’s your money. Rock out with your cock out.” A bank teller can get fired if they are off 1 penny at the end of the day.

  56. MeOhMy says:

    He doesn’t seem so smart so he probably didn’t get in writing that the money was “his.”

    He probably also didn’t report it on his tax return! Here comes the tax man!

  57. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    The only thing he could have legally done in this situation is to put it in a passbook savings account and ride the interest. $5 million would still kick off around $10,000 a month in payments so he should have just done that and kept his mouth shut.

  58. mac-phisto says:

    @Elcheecho: you get the misinformation award of the day.

    fdic insurance covers up to $100,000 per depositor, per member institution & an additional $250,000 for retirement accounts

    what does this mean? if you have a joint account with your spouse, that account is actually insured up to $200,000.

    if you & your spouse have an account at institution A & an account at institution B, you are insured up to $400,000 ($200,000 at each institution).

    don’t take my word for it…the horse’s mouth.

    but again, this is not an fdic issue. also, the fdic really hates to pay out on its insurance, so typically they will merge banks before insolvency. just an fyi there.

  59. cmp179 says:

    When I saw the Consumerist headline telling me that Commerce Bank accidentally gave me $5 million, I got excited for a second.

  60. muddgirl says:

    @G0lluM and everyone else who thinks he’s innocent: No, he does not have a case. Dude knew it wasn’t his money, no matter what the bank said. He’s gonna have an awfully hard time proving that he DIDN’T know it was a mistake. The bank’s stupidity does not change the fact that he stole money from the bank.

    Here’s an analogy. Bob, who’s sort of dumb, leaves his Corvette idling, with the door unlocked, in my driveway. I tell you, “Hey, that’s your car, get it out of my driveway.” You insist that it’s not, and I insist that it is. Eventually, you take the car and get into a car wreck. Bob, despite his stupidity, is now out one car, and it’s clearly your fault.

  61. bonzombiekitty says:

    @forgottenpassword: In this case I don’t think what the bank told him matters.

    He was using an account he KNEW was not his. This was another person’s money and account, and he knew that regardless of what the bank told him. If a key maker accidentally gives you copies of a key to another person’s house and insists he gave you the correct keys, does that give you the right to go into that house and take what you want? That’s not too much different than what happened here.

  62. DaDabaDon says:

    I had a co-worker that had an account with this bank and something like this happen to her. She was getting an extra check every week for about 2 months. She would call the bank and let them know it was not her money, and they would tell her yes it was. When they finally corrected the mistake they wanted to take her to court because she used the account while the extra money was in there. What was she going to do for food and paying rent in those two months, pull the money out of her @ss account.

  63. forgottenpassword says:

    All I gotta ask is how the hell does a bank make THAT big of a fuckup??!!!! Just for the mistake alone they should be out 2 milllion.

    If I were the original owner of that 5 million account …. I’d be so pissed at the bank that gave away my money, that I would sue the damn bank!

    THAT is a MAJOR error for a bank to make!

  64. K-Bo says:

    @muddgirl: He didn’t steal it from the bank. It wasn’t the banks money to give away anyway. He stole it from the person it really belonged to, who never gave him permission. It would be different if a computer error “created” the extra money, but that’s not what happened here, the money actually belonged to the other guy.

  65. bonzombiekitty says:

    @forgottenpassword: It’s a pretty easy mistake to make, they both had the same name. Its easy to see how that mistake could occur.

    But again, they didn’t give the money to the guy in question. They said that he owned an account that he didn’t own.

  66. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    He should have gotten it withdrawn in a cashiers check and put it in a safety deposit box. From this 13 year old story about a guy who cashed a junk check and caused the bank a hell of a time to get the money back, it seems like that provides some protections against legal prosecution.

    Or maybe $5 million in todays money is worth so much more that they don’t need to pussy-foot around. (insert 95 thousand 1995 dollars = 5 million 2008 dollars inflation joke here)

  67. bonzombiekitty says:

    @K-Bo: Exactly. He didn’t steal money from the bank, he stole money from the other guy. The bank is not the arbitrator over who actually owns that money. A bank can’t really declare “that money is yours” and that magically makes it yours.

    An anaolgy: I have a storage room in one of those public storage places. Someone with the same name as me has one too. I go to the public storage place and they give me the key to the other guy’s room. I protest saying it’s not my room. The employee, thinking I’m an idiot who can’t remember what room I had, insists it’s mine, I get tired of arguing and accept that the room is “mine”. That does not make the contents of the room magically mine.

  68. bukz68 says:

    Step 1: Report wallet, credit cards, etc. stolen to police.
    Step 2: Buy fake mustache, dark sunglasses, hat.
    Step 3: Have bank wire $5mil to new account in Caymens.
    Step 4: Report identity theft.
    Step 5: Wire money in Caymens account through several other banks, finally ending in a country with little or no oversight.
    Step 6: Tell boss to go fuck himself.
    Step 7: Hello, Carribean!

  69. forgottenpassword says:

    @bonzombiekitty:

    My commerce bank (the midwest chain t… not the one in this article) even told me once that they had another customer with my same name in the same city, but even THEY have never mixed up our accounts.

    One time… my bank’s credit card got credited with $600 that wasnt mine. I used it up & they never figured it out. This was about 15 years ago at a different bank. I got pissed at them later when they misplaced a $300+ paycheck & refused to do anything about it because I didnt keep the deposit slip. I closed my account & left in anger, then about 2-3 years later they sent me a letter saying that I still had money in a closed account. They were stupified when I came in to withdraw money from a years old closed account… I explained to them they must have found the money that they lost. I withdrew it & reclosed the closed account.

  70. JollyJumjuck says:

    1) Have the same name as some rich dude and bank at his bank.
    2) Hope that bank employees are not paying attention.
    3) Withdraw money from his account and pretend it is yours.
    4) ?????
    5) Profit!

  71. bornconsumer says:

    Suppose the bank did tell him it was his money. At what point did the bank figure out it wasn’t his money? And who ratted him out to the police? I’d say that the bank has a lot of explaining to do to someone. Whats the full story?

  72. AD8BC says:

    @Applekid: That Goodthink story is a classic… I’ve actually met him, he’s a hoot.

  73. Blackneto says:

    A coworker had the opposite done with one of his accounts.
    National City “lost” $70,000 from his account.
    funny thing is he never had that much in it.
    He did had $35000 in it as it’s an operating account for his cattle business.
    He found out when his feed supplier called and said his check bounced.
    When he called the bank he found he was overdrawn $35000
    How this came about is that he presented a cashiers check for $70000 from a cattle sale and the bank told him that it would take a week to clear.
    After his obvious disgust he asked for his check back and took it to the bank that the funds were drawn on so that he could have the money immediately.
    When the cancelled out of the transaction the teller managed to deduct $70000 twice. User of software error, no one knows. But it took National City many days to straighten it out. They had to write a letter to his creditors explaining the mixup. They bank manager pretty much kisses my friends ass anytime he bothers to go in to the bank.
    Why NC wouldn’t make funds available from a Cahiers Check he’s still trying to figure out.

  74. QuantumRiff says:

    A bank cannot err in your favor, its almost like law. But the other way around is a different story.

  75. Blueskylaw says:

    I really, really, really, really, really want to work for a property management company.

  76. andymadrid1 says:

    In my contracts class at lawschool, the prof. said that if a bank puts money in your account by mistake, then withdraw the money and close the account because there is nothing the bank can do at that point. Not sure if he was serious or not, but that’s what he said.

  77. qwickone says:

    @Troy F.: He lost $2 million in bad investments in a couple months. how smart could he be?

  78. enm4r says:

    I had a couple thousand deposited into an account a couple years ago that I was not technically due. The payment was supposed to be like $500, but ended up being $2500 or something to that effect. Long story short, I immediately noticed and transferred the money to another account.

    Lo and behold, they tried an ACH debit and were rejected. I received a nice letter demanding the money, for which I arranged a return. My point was that I wanted to be in control, and was curious about the legalities. I had not been previously aware that it was legal for someone to initiate an ACH debit to your account if you have not previously authorized them to do so…but apparently that is not the case. Good learning experience for me.

  79. sirwired says:

    One time I refi’d my house and of course the loan was sold before the first payment was due. Our insurance was due at around the same time, so we had to pay that in full into escrow at closing.

    There are three players here: Old Bank (OB), Scummy Bank that promised not to sell our loan (SB), and new bank the loan was sold to (NB).

    A few weeks after closing we, as expected, get a check from the insurance company, since both OB, and NB, had paid the insurance premium.

    A week later, we get another check from insurance company, because our premium had been paid a third time. I pore over the escrow statements and everything looks regular… The money that we put into escrow at SB was transferred to NB in full, with nothing deducted.

    I call the NB and they say they got the full escrow amount from the SB, and used some of it to pay insurance. This is what we expected.

    I call the SB, and they insist that they deducted the payment from the escrow amount before they transferred the loan to NB. I can see this is wrong, as they most obviously transferred the full escrow amount to NB (without deducting the amount of the insurance payment.) They insist that “the computer is not wrong”. I thank them for their time and hang up.

    What likely happened was that there were two batch jobs running on the same night, one paid the insurance, the other transferred the loan, and they must have been using different copies of the database. Oops.

    They never came back asking for the money…

    SirWired

  80. The Marionette says:

    Even though he was a fool to spend the money, or at least not plan out a right way to not get caught, it was the bank’s fault to begin with that he got the money in the first place. In a way it reminds me of the incident where a guy was at a hardware store, bought some sort of saw that was on sale, and the total came out to 1 cent and management tried taking the saw back.

  81. StinkyCat says:

    I would have put the $5 Million in a chasiers check and then locked it in a safety deposit box at the bank. then make them sweat until I had a lawyer help me keep it.

    reminds me of the stroy about the guy that deposited the $87k advertising check.

  82. vladthepaler says:

    If, while I’m out of the house, someone sneaks in and leaves a bag of $5 million in my bedroom, it doesn’t seem like i would be committing a crime if i spend it. Particularly if i ask the person who left it there and he tells me it’s my money and I can spend it.

    So I’m not clear on why this situation should be treated differently. If anything, the bank is guilty of grand larceny for taking one person’s money and giving it to someone else.

  83. gingerCE says:

    This happened to me a long time ago. I had over $3000 deposited into my account–by mistake. I contacted the bank and the company doing the direct deposit. They told me not to spend it and it would come out of my account but could take up to 10 days to investigate. It stayed in there over a week before it was gone.

  84. K-Bo says:

    @vladthepaler: but this would be more along the lines of someone telling you your neighbors house is yours, you saying no it’s not, fighting back and forth a little, but then going into the house and finding the money. The money was not in his account, they were looking at the account of the other person. The bank didn’t leave money in his house, the other person left money in their own personal account.

  85. azntg says:

    From what I can read, if anything, the bank is at least equally guilty of negligence as Lovell is guilty of spending the money that’s not his.

    If there’s multiple people with the same name, the least you can do is to cross verify with address, SSN, etc. since chances are rare (except in the case of ID theft) that the two people will have the SAME information and credentials.

  86. azntg says:

    And seriously, the Monopoly piece that says: “Bank error in your favor, collect $50″ (or something like that) should be changed to: “Bank error in your favor. Pay $5000 and go straight to jail.”

  87. bonzombiekitty says:

    @vladthepaler: Because the money was not left in your house. The money was left in someone else’s house, and somebody told you that you own that person’s house even though you know for a fact that you do not.

  88. bonzombiekitty says:

    Oops that first line should read “Because in this situation the money was not left in your house….”

  89. G0lluM says:

    @muddgirl: For the record, I never said he was innocent :) The point I wanted to make was that the bank screwed up and shares some blame, ergo I think he has a shot at winning the inevitable civil case that’s going to result. That is, provided the plaintiff Mr. Lovell can document the bank’s assertion that the money was truly his. Which as stated earlier in the thread by someone else, he probably can’t.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong but I think for your analogy to be more accurate, Bob would have had to have placed the Corvette in your care to keep safe, a job for which you are compensated financially. Then YOU, in a stunning act of incompetence, parked it in MY driveway. After which, we had an argument about to whom the Corvette actually belonged. Finally I decide “Okay, jackass I’ll take the car.” After the wreck, don’t you share some of the liability? You know, for completely and totally screwing up the job Bob pays you to do (keeping his car safe)? I’d bet Bob would sue us both.

  90. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @bonzombiekitty: But is that what account numbers and PINs are for? How does he get access to someone else’s account by just having the same name?

  91. shadow735 says:

    @SkyeBlue: I am with you there I would have bailed on the USA and moved to another country.

  92. hi says:

    This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I keep telling them “stop giving me millions of dollars”, but do they listen? No! They just keep giving me millions! Gosh this makes me mad. Seriously if one more person gives me a million dollars I’m gonna get mad.

  93. unklegwar says:

    Funny how the banks can F up and keep YOUR money, and that’s just “a mistake”. Reverse the roles and it’s grand larceny.

    As far as I’m concerned, if someone gives it to you, it’s yours.

    If someone walks up to you and hands you 5 million in cash, it’s YOURS. But because it’s a bank account, the rules are different? BS.

  94. hi says:

    @hi: more mad than I already am.

  95. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @azntg: Think they’ll fix that for the movie?
    [www.rottentomatoes.com]

  96. bonzombiekitty says:

    @G0lluM: I think in that case, only one person could be held on a criminal charge. The bank in this situation is probably liable on civil charges.

  97. KJones says:

    The guy should be held to account (no pun) just as someone spending your or my money placed into the wrong account.

    What I don’t like is the speed and ferocity for redress on the part of the bank and the owner of the millions.

    How much it is shouldn’t matter, all such cases should be treated equally. Unfortunately, the wealthy (who can afford to wait a few months to get the money back) get preferential treatment and haste.

    Meanwhile, the average person who probably lives paycheque to paycheque and needs the money immediately, will be forced to wait months.

  98. bonzombiekitty says:

    @unklegwar: But this is not a case of someone walking up to you and handing you $5 million.

    There is a difference because the guy in the OP had access to an account, and thus money, that he KNEW WAS NOT HIS. Regardless of what the bank says, the money in the account still does not belong to the him.

    If it had been a smaller amount, you might be able to argue that’s it’s reasonable that the guy may have assumed that there was some account that he had forgotten about or something. But $5 million? No reasonable person would think that the money actually belongs to him, especially when the person in question argued with the bank that the money was not his.

  99. meneye says:

    @Ariah: I think brazil would be too busy fighting gang members to worry about some idiot American though.

  100. Elcheecho says:

    @mac-phisto: yah, sorry guys, i tried to correct right away, but it’s one down

  101. snoop-blog says:

    i would have immediatly transfered it to a swiss account and left the gd country singing god bless america all the way!

  102. forgottenpassword says:

    but did the guy KNOW it was someone else’s account? Or just think that the bank (or someone else) deposited money (that wasnt his) into his account. He said that it wasnt his money & the bank said it was. If someone deposits money into my account… am I to be charged with larceny if I try to withdraw it? MAybe that’s what the guy thought happened?

  103. javi0084 says:

    @unklegwar: I agree. IMO, any money that comes into your account is yours and no one is allowed to withdraw it without your permission.

  104. K-Bo says:

    @forgottenpassword: I get the impression that he did believe that it was money put in his account, and not the wrong account, but one could argue that if your account balance shows up off in either direction by $5 mill, you should check the account number before you do anything else.

  105. bonzombiekitty says:

    @forgottenpassword: It wasn’t his account. The bank did not deposit an additional $5 million into his account. Rather, they gave him access to someone else’s account.

  106. forgottenpassword says:

    @bonzombiekitty:

    I realize that but I figured that its possible that the guy didnt know that. Its possible that he believed that someone deposited the money into his account. He even said to the bank that it wasnt his money & the bank insisted it was.

  107. G0lluM says:

    @forgottenpassword: The way I understood the story, the bank put the money in the wrong Lovell’s account. When he tried to correct the issue the bank insisted the money was his. So he spent some of it.

    Stupid? Yes. Criminal? Yes, but will a jury convict? Solely his fault? No. The bank’s got to shoulder some liability here. But the real winner here is the guy who appears to be the loser — The “rich” Mr. Lovell, who I suspect is about to get much richer from a substantial settlement with Commerce Bank. Of course he is going to sue the bank, and no way are they going to let this thing go to trial once he does.

  108. Crymson_77 says:

    The primary issue here is simple. It doesn’t matter if they confused him with another customer, they did and they told him it was HIS money. Whether they like it or not, Commerce bank now should be out of the money, not the poor guy who was the recipient. Sorry Commerce, you fucked up and it is your fault. Now it is time to pay the piper instead of screwing this poor guy who never asked for $5 mil in the first place!

  109. bonzombiekitty says:

    @forgottenpassword: He admits he knew it was not his account. It doesn’t matter if he knew it belonged to someone else or not. All that matters is that he knew the account was not his.

    He admits the money was not his. $5million is too much money for a person to rationalize a reason why a reasonable person would think the money is actually theirs.

  110. PeteRR says:

    Transfer the money to a Vegas casino account. Drive to Vegas and withdraw the cash. Head down to the Mexican border and cross over driving an RV and pulling a boat. Buy a complete Mexican identity, including a passport. Fly to French Polynesia. Feel guilty, but live on a beach for the rest of my life.

  111. forgottenpassword says:

    @bonzombiekitty:

    I think he said that he did not have a “5 million dollar account”. Not neccessarily that it was someone else’s account. The way i see it he said the money wasnt his…. not that thre account wasnt his. Its possible that he believed that it WAS his account that 5 million was put into.

  112. bonzombiekitty says:

    @Crymson_77: It doesn’t matter if the bank told him it was his money. It will come down to the fact that no reasonable person would actually think the money is really theirs, unless banks are in the habit of randomly giving $5 million. Especially since the guy says he knew the money wasn’t his, he therefore knew he was spending money that he knew for a fact did not belong to him.

  113. G0lluM says:

    @bonzombiekitty: If the way you are stating this is true – and this was not a case of the money being placed in the wrong account – then my entire outlook of the case just changed. What did he do, walk up and ask how much money he had and they gave him the wrong account information? Then after arguing with the teller he decides to immediately withdraw $2 million???? That’s retarded. Fire the teller but he had to know what he was doing was illegal. C’mon.

    I thought the bank messed up by putting rich Lovell’s money in an account owned by signifcantly less-rich Lovell. Geez.

    That being the case, I hereby retract any and all statements I’ve made on this story.

  114. K-Bo says:

    @G0lluM: Unless they are not yet computerized at this bank, I don’t see how the money would go in the wrong account. That kind of stuff is based on account numbers, which are unique, not names, which can be duplicated within all the accounts in one bank. As a computer programmer, I really think if it was the wrong account, their programmers should be fired. There should be multiple layers of security that prevent someone from doing large transactions on an account based on just the customer name. The computer should ask for account #, customer name, and last 4 or ss or something like that, and if they don’t match, the transaction gets kicked to a human who researches and clears up the problem, then re-runs the transaction.

  115. bonzombiekitty says:

    @forgottenpassword: Either way, it’s irrelevant. Just because a bank puts money into your account, it does not mean it actually belongs to you (as in you have absolute legal right to spend it). You cannot reasonably argue that a person would think the money is REALLY theirs.

    Again, the guy openly admits the money was not his. He has admitted to spending money that he knew did not really belong to him. No matter how many times the bank told him “no, we think it’s your money” – he still knows that it’s not his. He KNOWS he is taking advantage of the bank’s mistake. There’s no getting around that fact, and that is to my knowledge illegal.

    If my employer accidentally appends an extra two zeros to a paycheck, I could be criminally and/or civilly liable if I try to actually keep that money. They made a mistake, but a reasonable person would not think I was intended to get that money, as my paycheck for some reason increased by a factor of 100. That’s a big red flag that a mistake was made, and I should not touch that money. If my paycheck had been off by, say $50 then I could probably argue that the difference was small enough that I just didn’t notice.

  116. forgottenpassword says:

    @bonzombiekitty:

    But what if someone actually does deposit money into my account on purpose? Is it mine now? You never know in this day & age what bizarre things could happen.

    I am just saying that its possible that the guy thought someone deposited money into his account on purpose, not that he was getting money from someone else’s account. His intent & what he thought happened should be taken into consideration here.

  117. bonzombiekitty says:

    bah, we need an edit button. To add to my last comment, the big reason you can’t just spend the money because the bank says its yours is because it’s not the bank’s money.

    The $5 million is the other person’s money, the bank is holding on to it. So when you spend money that has magically appeared in your account, and you know the money does not belong to you (regardless of the bank says), you are spending another person’s money. That’s theft.

    Like a mentioned in another analogy, just because a public storage place says a storage room belongs to me (whether or not it really does), does not mean that the contents of said room are mine to do with as I please.

  118. BugMeNot2 says:

    When he says he withdrew $1M in one day, that sets off a flag with me. If that is truly the case, they would’ve had to have filed a federal report, as they have to with any lump-sum transaction over $10,000 (may be higher now, it’s been a few years.) You can’t just walk in and say, “I want X dollars right now.” and have it handed to you without the proper paperwork being filled out.

  119. bonzombiekitty says:

    @forgottenpassword: Is people randomly depositing $5 million into other people’s accounts on purpose a common occurence? I don’t think it is. There is no reasonable reason for the guy to think that it happened.

    If he was really interested in knowing how the money got there, he should be able to see a check or some sort of information regarding where that money came from. I would expect that if he did so, he would see that it came from a total random place of which he had no knowledge of. A reasonable person would not assume such a large amount of money from a unknown entity was intended to go into your account.

    Perhaps it was. Maybe it was some crazy philanthropic person who deposits large sums into random people’s accounts. But a reasonable person would hunt down the depositor and verify that the funding was intentional, not just take the bank’s word for it.

  120. BugMeNot2 says:

    Another thing, for the hosers saying, “You give me money me keepy money”, let’s take the monetary aspect out of it.

    In a real world example, since this site loves those, let’s take the USPS. We occasionally get mail for someone else who lives on a similarly named street. This is similar to the “Same name, different account number” aspect of OP.

    There have been occasions where the same piece of mail, after we put it back in the box with a “Wrong Address” note, will be delivered to us again. This is similar to the guy in the article allegedly telling the bank that it’s not his money but the bank says it is.

    Now, just because that mail has been delivered to us repeatedly, it does not magically become our mail. If we were to open the mail, I would be committing a felony.

    Just because some people allow greed to win out over common sense or morality does not make their actions okay.

  121. FightOnTrojans says:

    @anatak: Actually, the technical legal term is “Felony Stupid.”

  122. Hellblazer says:

    He really is up the creek without a paddle on this one, no matter what the bank told him, because the bottom line is that it wasn’t his money and HE KNEW IT. Banks make mistakes like this all the time. Usually not to the tune of FIVE MIL, but these things =do= happen. My bank accidentally dropped $600 of someone else’s money into my account a couple weeks before Xmas, and guess what? It’s still there, and there it will stay until (a)the bank actually fixes the mistake that they’ve been promising to fix for the past two months or (b)The Rapture, whichever comes first. At this point, I’m sort of betting on The Rapture, but still. It’s not my money; I’m not spending it. Problem solved.

  123. K-Bo says:

    To anyone saying who cares if it’s a mistake, it’s in my account now, it’s mine, remember that you may one day be on the other side, and be the person who was supposed to get the money. You won’t want it to be oh well, it was a mistake but it stays then. You can’t have it both ways, there is a finite amount of money in the world, and if some shows up in one place, you better believe it’s because it went missing from somewhere else.

  124. FightOnTrojans says:

    @bonzombiekitty: Uggh… we’re going through that at work now. I work for a certain large, urban school district that has had a well documented payroll problem for about a year now (ever since they rolled out a new payroll system). Well, this great new system overpaid and underpaid hundreds, if not thousands, of people, mostly teachers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think all teachers should get paid more, but we are talking errors in the thousands of dollars, per month. Many of these people tried to keep the extra money saying that is what they normally get paid. I am so glad I don’t work in that department.

  125. youbastid says:

    @pmcpa: A couple months ago Bank of America deposited $160,000 into my friend’s account. He tried to tell them not once, but TWICE that the money wasn’t his. They told him it was, and they kept it there for weeks. I told him to move it to a high interest savings account until they ask for it back, and it was gone the next day…

  126. enm4r says:

    I just have to comment to say there are some ridiculous analogies being thrown out here, and not one really matches with the scenario. That is all.

  127. K-Bo says:

    @enm4r: care to share one that does?

  128. Brine says:

    @K-Bo: “Unless they are not yet computerized at this bank, I don’t see how the money would go in the wrong account.”

    On two separate occasions, I have made a deposit at a WaMu branch and the teller put my money into the wrong account. The first time, as I was walking out looking at the receipt, I noticed my available balance was -$50, despite depositing $500. Then I noticed the last digit of the account number was wrong. She corrected it with only a “Whoops. My bad.” After that I carefully monitored every deposit I made, and sure enough, it happened a second time not too long after.

  129. K-Bo says:

    @Brine: There should be an extra layer of security, and in some situations, the extra layer doesn’t kick in until you hit larger amounts, just because users equate security with annoyance. This is still a little different in that they were still entering something unique. With the name, if they just type it in, what do they do, deposit it into the account of the person with that name who was born first? or does the computer pick randomly among the people with that name? You can’t base transactions on non-unique identifiers.

  130. dorkins says:

    It’s not clear to me that the guy KNEW whose money it was. If so, who’s to know if it’s not some kind of crazy gift? Maybe from the millionaire disguised as a homeless person you gave a buck to?

  131. esqdork says:

    Commerce Bank appears to be a great place to launder money … if you do that sort of thing.

  132. G0lluM says:

    @esqdork: Maybe that’s the convenience they are speaking of when they refer to themselves as “America’s Most Convenient Bank”.

  133. bonzombiekitty says:

    @dorkins: Doesn’t matter if he knew whose money it was, he admits he knew it was not his. He had no reasonable reason to think the money actually belonged to him, unless there’s a rash of crazy rich people randomly depositing large sums of money into random people’s accounts that I’m unaware of.

    The money has to come from somewhere. The bank should be able to know where that money came from. Unless it was a cash deposit (and I doubt anyone is making a deposit of $5 million in cash), then there has to be a physical check, some electronic record of what account it came from, etc. Using that, you should be able to easily figure out if the money was intended for you or not.

  134. bonzombiekitty says:

    And all that is ignoring the fact that random people should not be making deposits into your account in the first place, unless you have authorized them to.

  135. enm4r says:

    @K-Bo: I can’t actually think of one myself, with the legalities of financial transactions there isn’t really a perfectly analogous medium.

    The storage example is close, but there are some protections if you are electronically transferred money and spend it. The sending party cannot always send a reversal, and there are instances where they would be out the money, and it would be fair game to spend. Not knowing the details of the case, it’s hard to say. The reporting isn’t even clear if he withdrew the money from his account after it was wrongfully deposited or if he was allowed to withdraw from the rightful owner’s account.

    I think we all know he’s an idiot for blowing $2MM so quickly. The smart thing would have been to move the money, and then sit on it for awhile to see how things play out. He didn’t leave himself an out, and he might get burned for it, in which case I would have little sympathy.

  136. DomZ says:

    @IphtashuFitz: Unfortunately FDIC coverage is NOT $100,000 per account. It is $100,000 per type of account ownership per bank. In FalconFire’s case where his girlfriend has to use North Jersey deposit slips she would be covered for $100,000 per type of account ownership in EACH Commerce region (until they join all the regions into Commerce Bank, N.A.)

    Ex:
    1 Individual Acct
    1 Custodial Acct
    1 Joint Account
    1 Account ITF
    $400,000 in FDIC coverage

    3 Personal Checking Accounts
    1 Savings Account
    $100,000 in FDIC coverage

  137. thalia says:

    “But they said it was mine!”

    Like that’s gonna hold up in court, idiot. Nobody gives you 5 mil for good behavior. I’ve had my bank accidently deposit money in my account before and I had the good sense not to spend it because I knew they’d eventually find out their error and I’d get in trouble, even if it was their mistake. Don’t be a moron and you won’t get in trouble!

  138. XTC46 says:

    @shan6: in this case it was. Some people spend huge amounts of time trying to plan a robbery of this size, this bank j

  139. TechnoDestructo says:

    So if the bank makes a mistake in their favor and refuses to correct it, can you have THEM charged with grand larceny?

  140. brettt says:

    I’m sorry, but if somebody accidentally gives you something, it’s yours. And I’d gladly go to court over 5 million dollars, if I didn’t actually steal it and it was GIVEN TO ME.

  141. bonzombiekitty says:

    In regards to whether or not it was commerce that put the money in his account, or gave him access to another account, I can’t seem to find a straight answer. From the Wall Street journal:

    The financial hard-luck story of the week has to be Benjamin Lovell, a salesman earnings $600 a week who, according to this New York Post story, suddenly was told he had $5.4 million in his Commerce Bank account.

    According to the Post, Lovell insisted the money wasn’t his, but eventually believed Commerce officials who told him it was indeed his money and that he could withdraw as much as he wanted. Roughly $2 million of spending later, Commerce realized there was there was another Benjamin Lovell, a Philadelphia shoe mogul, who was supposed to have access to the account. Now salesman Lovell has been indicted on grand larceny charges.

    That seems to say both things. But I still tend to read that as Commerce mixing up the accounts rather than just depositing the money in the wrong account.

  142. ShadowFalls says:

    Obviously, no one agrees what this guy did was right. He clearly knew it was not his and went and spent it anyways. The suggestion to put it in a savings account would be the best solution.

    But in short, if a bank makes this kind of error, I doubt you would want to be doing business with this bank at all.

  143. bonzombiekitty says:

    @brettt: No it’s not yours. AFAIK by law it’s only yours (in that you won’t get in trouble, but you can have the money taken back) if you can reasonably think that it is supposed to go to you. If you know it is a mistake, like this case, you can be held liable in some fashion for knowningly taking advantage of the mistake.

    The guy knew it was a mistake with the bank, and he ultimately tried to exploit it. No matter how many times he tells the bank “this is not my money” and the bank says “yes it is”, as soon as he touches that money, he’s in trouble given that he knows it’s not supposed to be in his possession.

  144. DomZ says:

    Put it in a HYS – maybe they’ll let you keep the interest for your troubles. $18,000 of interest in 1 month @ 4% compounded daily.

  145. Tank says:

    uhhh, where i bank they look up accounts by account number, and not names. maybe commerce isn’t that sophisticated?

  146. clevershark says:

    1. Withdraw the money
    2. Buy $5M’s worth of 30-day GICs. Repeat until you get letters from the bank inquiring about the money.
    3. Profit!

    I’m guessing that Lovell isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer…

  147. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @K-Bo: which means even if he loses in criminal court, he can still sue in civil court for lying to him and then reporting him to the police because of their mistake. Three levels of management tell you the $5M is yours, then it’s THEIR mistake. Period.

  148. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @bonzombiekitty: But another thing to consider here is, the bank FACILITATED his using the wrong man’s account. It’s not like he was using the other guy’s debit card at the ATM machine. The bank SAID it was his account, then WILLINGLY gave him the money, even after he said it couldn’t be his account.

    In the least, the bank should be charged with the same crime, as it was basically an accomplice to the crime.

  149. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m moving to NYC tomorrow and opening accounts across Manhattan. After I change my name to “Nick Denton”.

  150. SkyeBlue says:

    After reading all these posts I’ve noticed ALOT of us who post here seem to have some criminal tedencies and have thought this scenario out in scary detail! :-)

    I’m sure if we tried to pull of something like this the bank would have some creepy guy follow us to the ends of the Earth “waiting in a bowl of rice to pop a cap in our a–”. (Marcellus Wallace “Pulp Fiction”)

  151. PeteRR says:

    @SkyeBlue:
    It’s the people who don’t think things through ahead of time who get screwed. Seeing “No Country For Old Men” got me to thinking about illegal windfalls.

  152. Bunklung says:

    I think he still has most of the money. He has it buried some where.

  153. HykCraft says:

    Wells Fargo last year accidently gave me a $2 million deposit into my checking out. I originally only deposited a $2000 check.

  154. HykCraft says:

    checking account*

  155. Trai_Dep says:

    @PeteRR: funny, it made me think, “Next time I get locked out of my flat: say hello to my leetle friend!”

    And, “Poor, poor cows!”

  156. Anonymous says:

    @Eric1285:

    @snoop-blog:

    @bukz68:

     

    Yup.  Get it out of the country, and promptly follow it.  Hopefully his passport’s in order.  Open an account at Credit Suisse Geneve, wire the money there, then bounce it around a couple banks in the Caymans, then back to Switzerland.  Probably should break it into a few pieces when doing this.  4 million to bank 1, then 750k to four more banks, then 500k from each of those to another centralized account.  After a week, do the same thing with the remaining million at the original bank. All of the bankss involved should be happy to have the money on their ledgers for ANY amount of time, let alone a couple days to a week, so they’d all probably be pretty obliging.

  157. Brine says:

    To the people suggesting the savings account to rack up the interest, in the link posted earlier about the guy deposting a $95K fake check, the bank made him return the interest he made on it, although it was with the same bank, so maybe if you moved it to a different bank, you’d get to keep it?

  158. amoeba says:

    @friendlynerd: OMG! I just laughed at your comment!

     

    Last week the Credit Union I am banking now, put my money ($3000.00 from a big proyect) into someone else’s account. I noticed that after reading the receipt and I saw a different name. What upsets me is that the clerk didn’t apologized nor said anything about her incompetence. Now I am skeptical!

  159. jamesdenver says:

    re: Brazil.  You need a visa to go there.   And a passport to leave the country.  Which most Americans don’t own.

  160. jamesdenver says:

    @s0crates82:

    And others regarding “flee the country”.   First, you can’t get on a plane with millions in your carry on.   You can’t check it.  By what method and means are you going to “wire the money?”   Bank X already knows Bank Y was scammed and you’re the guy.   You can’t lug this around town for much longer.  Safeway will let you send what – 10k in cash?
    So you ride shotgun with a coyote’s return trip and make it to Mexico City -somehow your money stays intact and you move your money to these accounts.  It’s the Caymens, Switzerland, or whatever James Bond scenario you have set up.   By the way do you speak Spanish, French or Russian?
    Now you’re living in Prague under the radar.  What do you do?  Yes DO. When you wake up.  You go out for coffee, visit a museum, get a hooker.  And the next day?  The same thing?  Yes – you’re bored out of your mind.   Boy you wish you could go bowling with your English speaking bowling friends.  Let’s say you do make a couple friends.  It’s not 1950.  News is global.   If you haven’t blabbed about it probably read about you on CNN.com    They have the internets in other countries.  Now his shady friends know you have cash and want to to fund their god awful business ideas.  Your friends aren’t friends anymore cuz you have money.
    Meanwhile the bank has hired private security and investigators to track you down.  Yes they’ll pay for those.  Microsoft has teams all over the world busting software pirates.  So you have a few apartments in a few different cities.   Everyone is suspicious of you because you don’t do a damn thing all day and are always in and out.   You wish the private investigators WOULD catch up with you just so your life would get a little exciting.  Like in the Bourne Identity.
    Then your parents get sick and or die.  Do you have siblings to take care of that?  Have you managed to send them any money via these arcane channels.  Are you going to visit them?   You can’t exactly clear customs in Detroit so do you fly to Toronto and take a dingy across Lake Huron?   In February? 
    It’s fun to say “put the money offshore and go live in Brazil” – but logistically I’d think it’s a tad more complicated.
     

  161. guspaz says:

    I wonder… If you stuck the $5 million in one of those high-interest savings accounts, had it there at interest calculation time, got the (in my account) $14,500 in interest, would they take back $5,000,000, or would they take back $5,014,500?

    After all, you’re not spending a dime of the money, just keeping it until they can correct the error.

  162. shadow735 says:

    He should have taken the money out, put it in a high interest savings account that way when he found out the money wasnt his he could withdraw it and have lots of interest cash to keep.

  163. ihateauditions says:

    @Eric1285: The kind of person who can afford to keep 5 million as uninvested cash isn’t too concerned about FDIC insurance.

    I’ve heard any number of people joke about FDIC insurance, in that it’s a guarantee on the only financial account that they could lose without cringing.

    @yesteryear: Not everybody checks all their accounts all the time. If you hit up my business account, I likely wouldn’t notice until the close of the quarter, unless you made something bounce. If you hit my investment accounts, I wouldn’t notice unless I decided to sell something, but I almost never sell. The only account I might notice it on is my checking account which (paradoxically enough) is the only account not worth robbing.

  164. PeteRR says:

    @jamesdenver:

    In Mexico, nobody asks for ID and you pay cash for everything because most people don’t have checking accounts or debit cards.

    I can name two towns off the top of my head that have a large enough gringo presence that you can get away with very little spanish. Most of the expats there are living off of savings or trust funds. You can fit right in. $5 million is enough for 10 people to live comfortably. For years.

  165. P41 says:

    Stealing is wrong.
    But why is it that every other year there’s a bank that insists “that money is yours”. Seriously, anyone working at a bank who’s told $5mil or whatever isn’t that person’s money, get it in writing, say “Yes Sir, we’ll take that money away right now”, and when you finally figure out whose money it is, if it was the one who complained, it’s not like the bank could be blamed after getting a statement that it’s not theirs.
    So if they insisted it’s his (you DID get it in writing, right???) that’s a heck of a gift but you CAN think that a gift belongs to you (be sure to pay taxes on it). Oh and this defense survives it being the other guy’s account since where they got the money to gift him is the bank’s problem, not his.
    Of course if you think you’re $5 million richer you can afford to spend the first of it on an attorney to check things out. Also yes $2mil in investment losses in 2 months sounds more like Vegas.

  166. MrEvil says:

    I would have put the money in some kind of interest-bearing account. Worst came to worst the bank could reclaim the five million and they couldn’t say I didn’t help the rightful owner of the money since I didn’t spend it and merely tried to make interest off it. Interest on 5 mill can add up quickly even with crappy interest rates on savings.

  167. forgottenpassword says:

    @BugMeNot2:

    I remember PSA commercials growing up that said something to the effect that if you recieve something in the mail that was unsolicited…. that you get to keep it. I rememeber the commercial had an eskimo that recieved a fan in the mail & was smiling because it was his now.

    @dorkins:

    That was my take on the situation.

    @nursethalia:

    But it does seem evil that THEY made the mistake by insisting “its yours” & then they turn around & stomp on you with larceny charges because you agreed with them & took it. It seems as if they are taking out their anger (at their own embarrassment for screwing up so BADLY) on someone else.

    Its like someone handing me 5,000 dollars because they think I am someone else & then running to the cops to say I stole it.

  168. forgottenpassword says:

    @jamesdenver:

    Noone thinks it will be easy, You’d have to be smart about it.

    You could always leave the money with a trusted friend who gets a share for converting the money into something more easily smuggled out of the country (diamonds for example). You could always buy a boat & then conceal the cash inside (it could be quite hard for the coast guard or other agency to find paper currency well hidden on a boat as they mostly look for drugs… not just cash). Then sail that boat to your destination. You could also invite your friend along to be your partner & use him as the shield for everyday things. Not getting noticed is of utmost importance. You can live a simple life in a community & then go elsewhere to “live it up & have fun” & then come back to tyour simple life. You would also eventually adapt to your new surroundings. You may have to move a few times. You know… there is an irish-american gangster right now on the run posing as a tourist in europe ( I think this is him …. [www.fbi.gov] ). He has plenty of money, wanted by the FBI & he still hasnt been caught. If HE … a notoriously wanted man can do it…. I am sure some nobody (with millions) can. The authorities arent going to plaster your face around the world for being a nonviolent criminal & only taking 5 million. Heck I never even heard about the irish-american mobster until years after he took off to escape authorities.

    Right now… in my current life. I’d be willing to take the chance to do this.

    Maybe I’d convert the $$$ into diamonds & smuggle them out that way. Its much easier to smuggle out diamonds than it is piles of cash. Heck! for fun i may even dress as an elvis impersonator & have the diamonds made into a glittery (seemingly)rhinestone-festooned outfit! lol That’d be a caper! Wouldnt it?

  169. econobiker says:

    @AD8BC: Great to to see a link to the $95k check guy- I was hunting the story a couple of weeks ago…

  170. BugMeNot2 says:

    @forgottenpassword:

    “@BugMeNot2:

    I remember PSA commercials growing up that said something to the effect that if you recieve something in the mail that was unsolicited…. that you get to keep it. I rememeber the commercial had an eskimo that recieved a fan in the mail & was smiling because it was his now.”

    That is if you receive something unsolicited, not if you receive something erroneously. It still has to be addressed to you. The point of the “keep unsolicited items” policy is to keep businesses that apparently have your scruples from sending out items to people then trying to force them to pay for it. It has nothing to do with you accidentally getting your neighbor’s, or someone else’s, mail and deciding to keep it, which is, yes, a felony. This is why most unsolicited is addressed to “$person or Current Occupant”. If it were just to $person, it would legally (though not realistically) require being returned to sender.

    However, I’m not really sure why I’m bothering to reply to you, becauase, after reading your responses in this thread and a few others, you’re not the type who wishes to actually discuss things. You merely wish to justify your reprehensible behavior.

  171. Project Thanatos says:

    Oh Monopoly.. you really taught me nothing! Apparently the “Bank Error in Your Favor Collect $10″ was a lie.

  172. banmojo says:

    @SkyeBlue: you saved me some typing. he should have wired the money to an account outside the US, gotten a 10 year passport and retired to the Philippines. No way he woulda gotten caught there (if he played it smart) and with that kind of moolah he’d have lived out the remainder of his days as a king. A real king! With 100 wives, 200 concubines, the whole deal. Now he faces notoriety and possible jail time. Damn shame.

  173. RvLeshrac says:

    @muddgirl:

    If the bank says “This is really your money,” it doesn’t matter if he knows it was a mistake. The bank is telling him that he is WRONG, and that it is NOT a mistake. Since he is not the one controlling the money, who does he believe?

    If you’re questioned by the police in a murder investigation (we’ll go with vehicular homicide here, since that’s the only case I can think of where this analogy would work) and you *know* that you ran over the guy and you *think* that you’re the one who killed him, but the forensic investigation determines that the man died a few hours earlier, do you argue with them until you’re arrested, or do you trust that the authorities are right in letting you go?

    Same thing here. The bank is the authority and the bank is telling him that it is deciding in his favor. Does he argue with them until they take the money away, regardless of whether or not it really is a mistake? Or does he assume that the bank, being the controller of the account, is right?
    ——–

    Further, to everyone claiming account mistakes based on names… names are never used to identify account holders. This is why banks use social security numbers as identifiers. They are unique across a generation.

  174. RvLeshrac says:

    @jamesdenver:

    Except that the “offshore” and “Swiss” banks that people refer to are known for giving the US the finger whenever information is requested.

    Credit-Suisse is going to hand over the cash. LBT or Julius Baer are going to ask them what the hell they’re talking about and demand that any legal action be run through InterPol, BIS, and any number of other international agencies.

  175. Anonymous says:

    @RvLeshrac:

    But Credit-Suisse won’t hand it over immediately, and even if they do, remember, it should be a staged system with multiple transfers and multiple destinations, preferably with many transcontinental routes.

    Credit-Suisse may be compliant with handing over what they’ve got, but once you begin dealing with the transactions occurring from numbered-account at bank X to numbered-account at bank Y, it starts getting complicated.

    forgottenpassword has a point with the conversion to durable goods or hard-currency. When chunks of the money have arrived, it may be wise to convert some to cash and store it that way and keep it liquid. You won’t be earning interest on it, but if it’s somewhere safe and anonymous, then it’s not going to get confiscated either.

    PeteRR is dead on as well. Who says you need to act like you’re jet-set as soon as you abscond? what’s wrong with living quietly and comfortably somewhere off the beaten path for awhile?

    Besides, let’s say you do get this kind of opportunity – and you are willing to play it out all the way, would you really try to keep doing what you were before you ran? If you’re a tax attorney, are you going to try to do that again after you’ve ran? Or would you consider setting up a small furniture shop in a country town and never really worrying if your hand carved chairs sell or not.