Bank Accidentally Deposits $31K In Account Of Teen, Who Promptly Spends It

When you get the “Bank Error in Your Favor” card in Monopoly, there should be a subsequent “Criminal Investigation into Your Spending” card that follows. Maybe then kids today would know that it’s not wise to go on a spending spree when an employee at their bank goofs and accidentally deposits someone else’s $31,000 into their account.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that a teen in Georgia is now in hot water after he went on a spending spree with a pile of money that wasn’t intended for his use.

It all began about three weeks ago, when the First Citizens Bank customer to whom the money does belong made a $31,000 deposit. Unfortunately for this customer, he’s apparently got a commonly used name (we’re guessing Ebenezer Von Tasselhound), so the bank teller goofed and deposited the money into the account of another Ebenezer Von Tasselhound at the bank.

When the real Von Tasselhound noticed that that his substantial amount of money wasn’t showing up in his account after 10 days, he contacted the bank, which realized it had gotten the many Von Tasselhounds confused, and that an 18-year-old with the same name had been the unwitting beneficiary of a bank error.

Meanwhile, Von Tasselhound the younger wasted no time in taking advantage of the bank’s goof, withdrawing some $20,000 in cash and spending another $5,000 using his debit card.

The teen subsequently tried to withdraw even more cash but by that point the bank knew it had mixed up its Von Tasselhounds.

The teller at the bank told the teen about the error and asked him to, ya know, return all those thousands in cash he’d taken out of the bank in the last few days.

Apparently not one to give in very easily, the teen insisted that the windfall was not an error but was an inheritance that was rightly his.

He even tried to repeat this claim when a sheriff’s deputy came knocking on his door to ask for the money’s return.

The teen reportedly promised the deputy that he’d promptly visit the bank to work out a deal that would get the money back in the First Citizens vault and keep the little Von Tasselhound from going to jail.

Alas, he has yet to make good on that promise and now officials are considering whether or not to prosecute.

[via AJC.com]

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  1. furiousd says:

    In the insurance world, an insurance company or independent contractor will have “Errors and Omissions” insurance for situations like this where they made a mistake and if the resultant cost to the agent or company is high enough they will file a claim to cover the effects of their mistake. Certainly the honest thing to do in this situation would have been for the teen to bring the error to the bank’s attention, but after the error’s been made it seems like it should fall under the similar situation of when something gets delivered that you didn’t order: you get to keep it. If UPS comes and collects the box off of your porch before you notice it, or if the bank removes the funds before the account holder does then the mistake didn’t go anywhere, but no theft occurred since he didn’t do anything fraudulent or otherwise to illegally obtain the money.

    • EducationalGeek says:

      I agree. It’s no different than businesses having to honor pricing mistakes. You get $31k, you spend it. End of story.

    • CommonC3nts says:

      A national bank would certainly be self insured for these things.
      They have so much money they dont get insurance through a third party.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      It’s a thorny legal issue, all right.

      We’ll need to refer to the case of Finders versus Keepers.

      Seriously though, while IANAL, I know from reading a lot of employment/workplace blogs (including ones that are qualified to give legal advice) that if your employer cuts you a paycheck for $500,000 instead of $500, you don’t get to keep it just because it was an error in your favor. But that’s because as an employee you should know what you are owed, and you are not automatically entitled to money you know you should not have. However, this is different; we’re talking about a teenager who had the money put directly in their bank account. Even if you can prove that they should have known better, as a teenager they may not be liable for the money. Then again, they are 18, so they are considered capable of entering a binding legal contract.

      I’m really curious what the law is on this now.

  2. CommonC3nts says:

    I dont see how this teen would ever go to jail for this.
    He was legally given money and spent it.
    Next time the bank wont ever do this again.
    It is abuse to send a local police officer to scare a kid for a 100% civil case.
    Now he will be responsible for the taxes, but not paying the taxes is all he is guilty of if he does not pay it next year.

    Since this is a civil matter and not criminal, the bank must sue the teen and get a court order to dock his paychecks until paid back.

    • nandre says:

      He was not legally given the money.
      The money is someone else’s property.
      PROPERTY.
      He knowingly spent money he knew was not his.
      He’s toast.

  3. gummo says:

    It may fall under the EFTA – if the bank makes a mistake, you have 60 days to notice it and bring it to their attention. After that, you are SOL. At least, this may be how it is covered for the person who actually made the deposit.

    I believe the regulations that cover if a bank makes a mistake in your favor are covered by state laws and vary accordingly, but the statute of limitations tends to run into years instead of days for those.

    It sounds like this is the result of bank error, according to the article. If it was due to an error on the part of the depositor, the outcome may be very, very different.