Did Washington Mutual Just Give Me $500?!

Daniel filled out a Washington Mutual deposit slip listing several checks and $500 in cash, but “forgot” to hand over the cash. He normally isn’t a fan of “shady business,” but now that he has a bank statement crediting him for the $500 hiding in his wallet, he’s suddenly not sure what to do…

He writes:

Today I went to wamu to deposit money from checks and cash to pay my property taxes in Los Angeles. So I fill out my depositing paper and I write the total of several checks and my cash. Yet when I go to the teller I only give them the checks and I forget to give them the cash.. I don’t notice at the moment that I still have five benjamins in my shirt pocket until about two hours later when I notice the bills. Now I have a bank account credited to an extra 500 dollars and I don’t know what to do. Can you help me out with suggestions? Can the bank track down who has an extra $500? I normally don’t like doing shady business but in a time of recession every penny counts.

Thank you for your help.

You’re going to be caught, plain and simple. Go back and speak with a manager. Explain what happened, and hand over the money. You’ll earn a small bit of good will, but more more importantly, you won’t be, you know, stealing.

(Photo: knightraven)


Edit Your Comment

  1. GiselleBeardchen says:

    Same thing happened with one of my kids savings accounts years ago–they never caught it! I say—f&*K em. Think they wouldn’t (and haven’t) “do you if they had a chance?

    • twritersf says:

      @GiselleBeardchen: I bet we all appreciate the values you installed in your kids.

    • supercereal says:

      @GiselleBeardchen: Getting kids to lie, cheat, and steal early on in life can’t possibly have adverse side effects down the line.

    • jackbishop says:

      @GiselleBeardchen: Think they wouldn’t (and haven’t) do you if they had a chance?

      Ethics doesn’t work that way (and neither does civilization).

      • FrugalFreak says:

        “and neither does civilization”

        Sadly upon the moral decay of past generation, That is now not true.

        One can just hope they will be dead by the next “pure” generation.

    • The Black Bird says:

      @GiselleBeardchen: That’s a great thing to instill in your children. Teach them to lie, cheat and steal. You should be given the parent of the year award.

      Sarcastic Mode Off

    • Con Seannery says:

      @GiselleBeardchen: I applaud your parenting skills. We need more parents like this, instilling morals and ethics in the next generation to make a stronger, better works for the people of this planet to live in!

    • scoosdad says:

      @GiselleBeardchen: You’re the reason we’re all in this big global economic mess, you know! And all along we thought it was Barney Frank’s fault.

      • Hector De Jesus says:

        @scoosdad: Yeah… it was kinda an ignorant comment to make but that’s not the reason that we’re in the financial mess. The mess was everybody’s fault… not just poor and ignorant people.

    • webreacher says:

      @GiselleBeardchen: What about the teller? You are willing to get someone fired, so you can keep couple of $$$ ?

      • anduin says:

        mistakes are for the weak, you make one you suffer the consequence. Its not his fault, he should take the 500 and let it be a lesson to the bank to hire more competent people.

        • Brent Newland says:

          @anduin: You are a sick sick person. So when that young lady at the counter, who has been working her butt off because it’s welfare check day or payday friday, is tired as hell, and makes a mistake, she’s incompetent?

          You are either a pre-teen or you are mentally retarded.

          • DefineStatutory says:

            (sigh) I love what the world has come to. @Brent Newland:

            Ah the very heart of Enron, AIG, etc. I can take what I want, and keep it, as long as no one knows that I’m getting over on the system. There are no consequences, and no one else is affected by my actions.

            Makes me feel good that everyone jumped on this post and had an issue with taht thinking…maybe there’s hope after all.

      • midwestkel says:

        @webreacher: I think the teller is going to get fired no matter what in this situation. But the bank will feel better letting the teller go knowing they have recovered the money.

        • eelmonger says:

          @midwestkel: The teller might not have gotten fired if they guy had gone back and given the money to them as soon as he noticed the error, rather than asking the internet if it was OK to steal. Granted, the teller did mess up, but it would’ve been the nice thing to do.

      • superberg says:


        This in particular. You keep that money, you are costing someone a job. In this economy, that is inexcusable.

        Yes, they made a mistake. But that doesn’t excuse you from fixing it. If ComEd overbills you, and you miss it, do they get to keep your money, or do you raise a stink a week later here on Consumerist about how terrible they are?

        • ionerox says:

          @superberg: if the Teller didn’t notice that lack of $500 cash that belonged to the deposit- they weren’t doing their job and deserve to be disciplined.

          • superberg says:


            You mean “on unemployment then welfare?” Because that’s what will happen in this job market. With banks consolidating and cutting jobs left and right, the best this person can hope for is minimum wage.

            So, this person deserves to lose thousands of dollars in income because this person is a lying schmuck? Please.

            Mistakes happen. That’s why they are called “mistakes” and not on-purposes. I can guarantee that simply knowing about this mistake will send their heart racing enough.

    • WorldHarmony says:

      If I discovered that I had money in my account that I’d forgotten to hand over at deposit time, I wouldn’t write to Consumerist asking what to do. I would go to/telephone the branch manager as soon as possible, explain what happened and hand over the money. Why in the world is there any question in this guy’s mind about the right thing to do? Oh- because he isn’t interested in being honest, only in not getting caught.

  2. dandubois says:

    im sorry but

    im not exactly sure why you wouldnt go back in the first place. the bank is going to find out eventually why try and steal from the bank. It will get you nowhere but trouble.

    • Shane Elliott says:

      @dandubois: the same banks who can’t “find out” that the mortgages they make are worthless and will never be collected on? Their entire business process is centered around the movement of largely imaginary digital numbers. If its in their computer records, to them it is real. If he made it long enough to send this question to consumerist, he is likely in the clear

      • dandubois says:

        yea, personally I would just go back and explain the situation and hand them the money. He obviously planned to have it in his account. I agree with every bit of money helps and who couldn’t use an extra $500? He may be in the clear but I probably wouldn’t have waited this long once I realized to avoid any repercussions.@Shane Elliott:

      • K-Bo says:

        @Shane Elliott: Difference being here that the drawer is checked every night. In that drawer there are clues like “ok, who had an even 500 in cash on their deposit slip” That can so easily be combined with video surveillance to prove you didn’t give the money. There may already be a snail mail letter on it’s way to his house informing him of the correction to his account ( that’s how my bank handles it if I put in the wrong amount on an atm deposit at least.)

      • Jason Zolghadr says:

        @Shane Elliott: The beautiful truth:

        The consumer has 7 business days to discover and report any banking error to their benefit and collect the difference.

        If the error is in the bank’s error, they have your entire lifespan to catch the mistake and take the money back from you.

    • jblaze1 says:

      @dandubois: I don’t think it is steeling, unless he withdraws it. Otherwise, he isn’t using it (unless you count a few days at 0.5% interest on $500 steeling, which is probably $0.01, if even).

      • supercereal says:

        @jblaze1: Unless he’s plating the spare cash with metal, you’re right — he’s not technically “steeling” it.

        Whether it’s physical or not, he is knowingly manipulating the bank records to show he owns more than he actually does. In hand or not, I’d say it’s still stealing.

      • KCChiefsFan says:


        What? No. It’s in his account, he noticed the mistake, and he even went so far as to ask the Consumerist if he should steal 500 dollars. He mentioned his name, the amount, the city, and the bank involved. How long do you think it would be until they found out? There is no doubt that he could get in a shitstorm of trouble if they find out before he did.

        Daniel, go back to the bank on Monday, explain what happened, and hand them the 500 dollars. Seriously.

        • KCChiefsFan says:


          find out before he did = find out before he returns the money.

          Grammar fail, thought process fail, typing fail, etc.

        • FrankReality says:


          Agree with you 100%. I wouldn’t have waited 5 minutes – I would have called the bank as soon as I noticed it and if they were open, would have dropped everything to make it right.

          Knowingly keeping money that isn’t yours, even though you didn’t steal it, is illegal in many states. And $500 may be a felony in some states.

          Regardless, it is unethical and dishonest.

          What galls me though is the large number of people on this thread that think it is perfectly ok to keep the money. It is a sad state of our nation that so many here are dishonest and unethical.

          • K-Bo says:

            @FrankReality: The sad thing to me is that many of them use the ” I was wronged once, so it’s ok for me to wrong others now.” But really, that type of thinking lands us in a big fat ugly messy “it’s all about me” society where no one can expect anything but the worst from anyone else:(

    • Prole says:

      @dandubois: I agree. They will find out.

      The best way to tell them is to send a letter to the bank informing them of the error. Make sure the letter has a reference number on it. Include a phone number they can use to reach you.

      When they do contact you, let them know that yes you have the money, and yes there is a 2-3 week processing time in order to have the money sent. Also, there is a transaction fee of $10.00 and a mailing fee of $10.00.

      Be sure to keep copies of all correspondence and record your phone calls.

      Lastly, wallow in your short-lived bitter satisfaction.

      …at least that’s what I’d do!

  3. snazz says:

    usually the bank teller is responsible for the cash in their drawer at the end of the day. if it doesnt balance out, they are responsible for paying the difference out of their paycheck. at least this is what my friend told me, who worked at M&T for a few years as a teller. He would frequently owe them small chunks of change. so if you dont go back to the bank, you have screwed over the poorly paid teller out of $500, maybe. dont know if this practice goes on anymore….

    • Anonymous says:

      @snazz: Not quite true – I work at a bank and the teller would not have to pay the money back (I’m not certain, but I don’t think that sort of practice is legal), but they’d certainly lose their job.
      One of my co-workers misplaced $1K once and the customer who got the extra back in a change order returned the cash. The branch manager tried to give the customer a $50 credit in his account as a reward but the customer refused it.

    • Bobby Smith says:

      @snazz: untrue.

      • outlulz says:

        @Bobby Smith: According to the CA Wage Order: 8. CASH SHORTAGE AND bREAKAGE
        No employer shall make any deduction from the wage or require any reimbursement from an employee for any cash shortage, break-
        age, or loss of equipment, unless it can be shown that the shortage, breakage, or loss is caused by a dishonest or willful act, or by the gross
        negligence of the employee.

        • babyruthless says:

          @outlulz: You don’t think that neglecting to check and see whether or not the guy had actually given him/her the $500 doesn’t count as gross negligence?

          • coren says:

            @babyruthless: They didn’t offer an opinion, just stated the law for the person who said it wasn’t true

          • baristabrawl says:

            @babyruthless: It’s not hard to prove gross negligence, but you have to be an idiot a lot. If you make a mistake every now and then, they don’t so much try to fire you.

            If you’re completely incompetent and you couldn’t find your butt with both hands it’s easier. One occurrence doesn’t usually count…unless there’s a $500 transaction tied to it.

        • aguacarbonica says:


          Just because they aren’t allowed to make a wage deduction (if that’s even true, since this sounds like gross negligence to me) doesn’t mean a bank can’t fire a teller on incompetence or accusation of stealing.

          The real truth is that $500 is a lot of money to go missing, and that teller probably doesn’t even have a job anymore. So good job, Daniel.

          • anduin says:

            yup good job for getting incompetence out of the bank and getting a $500 prize for it

          • mythago says:

            @aguacarbonica: No, the teller probably isn’t out of a job. When there is a shortage the bank doesn’t simply fire the teller, they investigate the problem to find out where the shortage is. It won’t take them long to match up $500 missing with $500 deposited – that’s the FIRST place they’ll look.

          • SushmitaCaepio says:

            @aguacarbonica: Not completely true — one of my ex-girlfriends is a bank teller, and when we were dating she was something to the tune of $2200 short on her drawer. She is still employed (at that bank) to this day.

    • Aaron Longchamps says:

      @snazz: I work for my university’s dining operations and we balance drawers every time somebody ends their shift behind a register at any location. I’d hope WaMu does the same. Otherwise, I am very happy to NOT be banking with them right now.

      @Bobby Smith: You must not work in a job that deals with incoming cash. Balancing drawers is nothing new.

      • baristabrawl says:

        @Aaron Longchamps: If you are putting money into a drawer to balance you are breaking the law. The university has a policy in place, read it. I guarantee it doesn’t day that you’re supposed to put your own money in.

        It has something to do with collecting money from undocumented sources. A long time ago I worked for Blockbuster Video as a Store Manager and the previous store manager used to make the employees do that. Um…yeah. Illegal.

        • dvdchris says:

          @baristabrawl: Every company I have ever worked for has required employees to replace shortages for cash they were responsible for. That includes all the Blockbusters I have worked at.

    • youbastid says:

      @snazz: Sounds like BS to me. Does the bank give them the overage if their drawer is over?

    • kimmer939 says:

      @snazz: I worked as a bank teller for a year after college. Anytime the drawer does not exactly balance, it is a problem because you’re either shorting the bank or the customer, although tellers were never required to compensate for losses out of their own paychecks. Any discrepancy over $100 would be cause for putting the teller on probation. A $500 loss would be cause for dismissal. Granted, this error should be brought to the attention of bank management and the teller needs to be retrained/lectured about counting in deposits, but by not informing the bank of the error, you’ll have cost someone a job in this economy. I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.

    • Anonymous says:

      @snazz: If it’s been more than one or two business days since the transaction, then the customer is most likely in the clear for cash differences. The teller is ultimately responsible for the cash in his/her drawer at the end of the day. If they normally don’t make a habit of being off in their drawer, they will probably get off with a verbal or written warning and that will be the end of it. If they are regularly off, the $500 could be the final nail in the coffin that gets them fired. Either way, the teller is at fault for not paying attention. I’ve been a teller for nearly three years, and have never had a cash mistake anywhere near that amount. Even if it was legal for the bank to take the difference from the teller’s pay (which I highly doubt), that would be an extremely bad policy that would encourage tellers to lie about their mistakes, or try to short other customers to cover another mistake. Giving the money back is still the right thing to do, and may help the teller a tiny bit (the teller will still be in trouble for missing it initially), but ultimately this is the teller’s fault.

    • kanderson321 says:

      @snazz: When I was a bank teller (at a credit union), we balanced our drawers at the end of every shift. If we were short, we weren’t expected to make up the difference, but it DID come back to haunt us. A $500 error would get you written up and perhaps fired.

      In my first week of OJT, I came up short $250. I got written up that day, and then had to talk to my manager about it, then got to hear it again on my 30, 60, and 90 day reviews, even though I never again came up short. Having an overage is equally as bad.

  4. huse0064 says:

    If I am not mistaken, the teller can get fired for making a mistake such as that. So in a recession like this, Im sure s/he would like to stay employed. This seems like a personal moral question, obviously there will be mixed opinions on how to handle the matter.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @huse0064: I hope not, because, either way, the teller erred.

      • Con Seannery says:

        @Trai_Dep: The teller erred, yeah. The OP could probably get away with it, yeah. But this is a question or morals and integrity. If you, intentionally or not, stiffed the bank half a grand, do you got back and make right? Or do you hang on to it, chalk it up to good luck you weren’t caught, and let the bank be out $500?

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      @huse0064: I definitely agree that the OP should go in and talk to a branch manager to get the mistake corrected, especially so the teller doesn’t get fired. However, the argument that this is a recession and the teller would like to stay employed is easily countered with the fact that he/she couldn’t be bothered to check the deposit they were making.

    • silver-bolt says:

      @huse0064: Like has been said, either way the teller made a big error. The bank will most likely review video of the teller after counting out their cash drawer, and just send a notice to OP saying that the error in deposit has been correct. Or they will fire the teller.

      OP going back and bringing up the problem that they might have just ignored is also likely to get the teller fired. So you have to ask, is telling the bank worth getting the teller fired?

    • Christopher Milner says:

      @huse0064: Going back or not, the teller is getting fired for not collecting the 500 cash when he deposited

    • ionerox says:

      @huse0064: The teller should be fired- they weren’t doing their job. Whether the OP shorted the teller on purpose or not, it’s the teller’s responsiblity to make sure that the info on the deposit slip actually matches what they are taking in.

  5. Greeper says:

    Seriously? Consumerist is having a poll about whether someone should commit larceny? n This a really tough one.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a bank, or a jerk, or your mean 4th grade teacher who spanked you.

    It doesn’t matter that the The Game of Life has a Bank Error in your Favor Card.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re poor and need the money.

    Once they credit your account, the actual cash in hand doesn’t belong to you. This is like a kindergarten lesson. Turn the money over of let them know they made a mistake. And seriously consumerist, this need not be some kind of conundrum in need of a majority vote.

    • ColoradoShark says:

      @Greeper: There was no poll! Consumerist was pretty straight about telling to go back and hand in the money.

    • kylenalepa says:

      @Greeper: To be fair, I think it’s Monopoly that has the “Bank Error In Your Favor” card. ;)

      I agree, though. I’m surprised anybody is even suggesting that he keep the cash. He should go to the bank ASAP and hand over the money.

    • MsAnthropy says:


      Err, did you actually read the post? There’s no poll, nor even any question as to whether the guy should give the money back. Carey tells the guy straight out to go back to the branch, speak to a manager and return the money. Not quite sure how you missed that part before commenting.

    • Tzepish says:

      @Greeper: “Seriously?”

      Yes, seriously. Consumerist seriously agrees with you. Reading is fundamental?

    • anduin says:

      i love the moral compasses on this site, its so inspirational

    • CthulhuCalling says:

      @Greeper: Actually, it’s Monopoly that has the bank error in your favor card.

    • Cool story bro says:

      @Greeper: Well done man. You are the worst commenter.

  6. Kevin L. Hudson says:

    Moral and legal arguments aside for a moment…if you just move along with the extra balance in your account, then spend some of it, that may be the time they find and correct their error, leaving you overdrawn and facing fees which, according to some posts on Consumerist, could cost YOU as much as $500.

    • Skaperen says:

      @Kevin L. Hudson: And let me add that if they find they are under by exactly $500, and your account record is the only one showing $500 cash deposit, and your deposit went through the teller whose drawer is $500 under, they will know what happened. They will confirm it via the security cameras.

  7. Caveat says:

    Pretty easy to catch. At the end of the day they count and match up the cash on hand versus what the receipts show. There is a $500 discrepancy. So, how many depositors during the day claimed to have deposited exactly $500 in cash? Not many I presume.
    If they want want to prove it, they can just watch the video and look at what point you handed over the cash (or didn’t). Try to fight them and they can pull back the money from the county so that then your property taxes are not paid and you will have even more penalties (if you are paying now, obviously you are already late and probably under the threat of foreclosure from your lending institution). WAMU may even close your account. They can do that even for no reasonfor no reason. WAMU may have been kinder, but now that they are controlled by Chase, there is no kindness left.

    • Megalomania says:

      @Caveat: It’s quite possible the cameras wouldn’t be able to details on the paper going between the teller and customer. The cameras are there to see suspicious activity on behalf of the teller and to identify any customer who decides to try something.

      Odds are, they’d either assume (in this case, correctly) without solid evidence that an error was made and you never gave the money and deduct it from your account, or they would assume the teller stole the money and fire them and effectively ruin their life as committing theft when bonded is kind of a big deal.

      Either way, the right thing to do is go in, say that a mistake was made and feel like a honest guy for 5 minutes while you give them the money.

    • Heero says:

      @Caveat: the following is hypothetical

      if he were to sit on the cash and play the wait and see game that would be the best way for him to avoid any troubles. Worst case scenario bank comes at him telling him he defrauded them for $500 dollars. He denies it and asks them for proof. lets say they have a video showing he did not give them $500 cash. He claims he thought and did and says something along the lines of “I’ll check and see if i might still have the money somewhere.” and then later “finds” it in a folder with other financial documents he was using that day that he filed in a cabinet and hadn’t looked at since. He would then only be liable for the $500, and not any criminal charges.

      I’m not saying the bank wont catch him, but he can limit his liability if they do to just the $500 extra.

      Morally though, its a completely different story.

  8. I Love New Jersey says:

    There will probably be all sorts of fees involved for fessing up.

    • Con Seannery says:

      @I Love New Jersey: I don’t know, man. If you come in without them tracking you down for it and make good on that deposit, the bank manager might well decide it was an honest mistake and let you go.

  9. twophrasebark says:

    “I have a bank account credited an extra 500 dollars and I don’t know what to do.”

    Let me put this into the Truthanslatorâ„¢ [beep bop boop boop boop bing!]

    Like, would you give me permission to keep this money because I know it’s wrong and maybe someone else will be penalized but maybe if a website says so I can like keep it maybe?

    • K-Bo says:

      @twophrasebark: Thank you, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Even if Consumerist had said keep it, you think that would have put him in less trouble when the bank at a later point can prove not only that he had the money and knew it, but advertised it on a rather large internet blog?

      • dandubois says:

        @K-Bo: Haha. I can only Imagine the conversation.

        Sir Why did you keep the money?

        Consumerist said I could, thats why!

        • K-Bo says:

          @dandubois: Yeah, sometimes I think people give consumerist more credit than they should. I mean they are pretty nice and smart and cool and all that, but when you try to get free legal advice from a blog, best case scenario you get what you pay for. Worst case you end up in a legal situation so weird and twisted that they write a made for tv movie about you.

    • ColoradoShark says:

      @twophrasebark: You are correct. He was asking permission to keep an extra $500 not his. I admit I would be tempted. I also know I would go back and give them the money.

      If they hassled me and said it couldn’t be and the mistake was mine, then I’d keep the money.

      • Con Seannery says:

        @ColoradoShark: He’s got his guilty conscience at stealing $500 and is asking 1)if anything can happen to him because of it, and 2)trying to get reassurance that it’s okay to steal.

        • twophrasebark says:

          Wouldn’t it be funny if… he decided to return the money and then still got debited?

          That would be poetic justice!

    • rinse says:

      @twophrasebark: op obviously didn’t get the answer s/he wanted here; will try Dear Abby next.

    • cothebadger says:

      @twophrasebark: Tee hee! BEEP BOOP BEEP BOOP BOP BIIIIING!

  10. Munchtime says:

    If you went to the bank to withdraw a thousand dollars and they only gave you $800 and you didn’t notice until two hours later, of course you would go back and let them know that they did not give you all of your money. It is, after all, your money. But if they asked if they could keep the two hundred dollars for their investments because times are tough and every penny counts, how would you feel?

    You know the right answer to this, so please go tell them that you both screwed up and deposit your $500 properly. When that teller’s drawer is short, they’ll track you down eventually.

    • morlo says:

      @Munchtime: Yeah, but if you didn’t notice? Would the bank go to the trouble of tracking you down to return the money?

      • Skaperen says:

        @morlo: Yes. The only case where Daniel might get away with it is if someone else had exactly the same thing happen with the same teller, and their drawer count shows something other than a $500 error. Still, this can be figured out via the security video.

        The BIG question is HOW to go about the process of correcting this properly.

      • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

        In that scenario it’s difficult or impossible for the bank to know who got shorted.

      • sponica says:

        @morlo: eventually they will or so they claim….my TD bank account that I never use (and rarely check statements for) somehow ended up with an extra 2 grand in it. and even stranger is that it sat in my checking account untouched for 2 or 3 months, the bank only figured it out when I called asking about the extra money.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Munchtime: I did something very much like this a couple weeks back. I managed to get distracted between requesting the money and actually pocketing the $60 I needed. Yes, I felt stupid asking the bank about it, but they told me to put in a claim and that their ATMs retract the cash after a minute. End result: the money was credited back. Now, if I hadn’t claimed it, would they have still returned it? I don’t know, but the machine could and should be able to determine who didn’t collect…

  11. Kaisum says:

    If you wanted to keep the money then you probably shouldn’t have told anyone or gotten it posted on consumerist. Genius award goes to OP.

    Oh and 500 bucks? Someone probably lost their job.
    How’s that 500 sit in your possession with that on your conscience?

    • Cool story bro says:

      @Kaisum: Why do we care about some anonymous teller who’s apparently not very good at their job anyway?

      The bank just learned an expensive lesson in hiring.

  12. t0ph says:
  13. t0ph says:

  14. arthurborko says:

    Considering you sent Consumerist the story and it’s been posted for the world to see I think they’ll certainly figure out the 500$ shortage now. Had you been silent it’s very possible that in the end the entire thing would have been blamed on the teller.

    Clearly you feel guilty about this so as the blog suggests you should return to the Bank, talk to the manager and hopefully save someones job.

  15. arthurborko says:

    Oh, and for the record, does anyone else blame Monopoly in this? “Bank Error in Your Favor 50$” and in that game we’re supposed to be happy and get to keep the money!

    It kinda teaches the wrong thing to kids don’t it.

    • fantomesq says:

      @arthurborko: LOL! Best comment on the subject!

    • ajlei says:

      @arthurborko: Well, GTA doesn’t instill the best morals, either. But that doesn’t stop me from playing! :)

      • arthurborko says:

        @ajlei: Yes, but I think for once one can make the argument that it’s two different things.

        Monopoly is a harmless family board game, nobody would ever think to point out to the kids that keeping the banks money is wrong.

        Grand Theft Auto is a harmless video game to be sure, but it’s an adult game. Minors shouldn’t play it without adult supervision and reinforcement that it’s just a game and entertainment.

    • shepd says:


      I always imagined that was a case of the bank accidentally crediting your account without any interaction from you.

      You know, like you go to the ATM and see an extra $50 there that shouldn’t be.

      Because, in that case, you can just ignore it and remember to leave the money in the account (lest you pay overdraft should they reverse the error) until whatever length of time it takes for it to be legally yours. It’s a lot different from stealing, then.

      • arthurborko says:

        @shepd: Bank Error In Your Favor is pretty general. It could mean any error.

        Usually computer errors with no interaction from you are discovered by the end of the week.

        I used to work Check Cashing and my Aunt is/was a Manager at WAMU (till Chase took over and demoted her).

        Trust me, if they are even short 50$ they spend the whole week looking for the exact error that caused it.

    • bibliophibian says:

      @arthurborko: I never thought of it that way. I always thought it meant that the bank had overcharged you in the past, and now they had fixed it and were replacing the money they shouldn’t have taken in the first place.

      Obviously I never paid enough attention to the phrasing.

    • krista says:

      @arthurborko: OK – now I’m going to have to go through my Monopoly game and pull that card. I guess I’ll have to ditch “get out of jail free” too. Damn, what about the slumlording on Baltic and Mediterranean? OK, I’m just going to mark the game NC-17 and be done.

  16. ShyamalHope says:

    How old is this question? The banks aren’t branded WaMu in LA any longer, all the signage is now Chase.

    But besides that – why is this a question? Take the money back. Not because they’ll find out or because of the teller who will be left holding the bag but because that’s what you signed up for – banking. They hold your money in trust. Don’t mess with that sort of thing.

    • halothane says:

      @ShyamalHope: Here in NYC, you have to go to a Chase branch to make your deposits, but there is a special counter for WaMu customers, as the official assimilation of our accounts into Chase doesn’t occur until later this month.

      In the past week or so, I have driven by two WaMu branches in NJ that appeared to be alive and kicking, so perhaps he made his transaction at one of the last holdouts.

  17. ianmac47 says:

    Now that you have foolishly made it public that you know WaMu gave you the credit without giving them the money, you have no plausible deniability to argue otherwise, so really your only recourse is to fess up to the mistake.

    Have you never played Monopoly? Bank error in your favor, collect $500. Its not as though the bank won’t be taking this all back over your lifetime with nonsense fees and usurious interest rates.

    • MonstrousCosmos says:

      @ianmac47: So it IS true, as someone suggested upthread, that some people are so stupid as to think that Monopoly is a good source of life lessons.

      Setting aside the mere fact that it is a board game, it is a board game that was invented to highlight the IMMORALITY of capitalism, not to outline the finer points of the legal system.

      If you have ever actually had a bank error in your favor in real life with real money, you would know that it is something to vigilantly detect and try to reverse yourself. If you don’t catch it and report it (or at least don’t touch the money), the bank can and will take back the money WHENEVER THEY WANT. Too bad if you’ve spent it, because they’ll happily charge you overdraft fees and NSF charges that can exceed the original error.

      In other words, unless you never spend it, a bank error in your favor is ALWAYS a liability.

      • Cliff_Donner says:

        @MonstrousCosmos: 100% spot on, Monopoly is absolutely NOT a “good source of life lessons.”

        For life lessons, you should play The Game of Life:

        “You will learn about life when you play The Game of Life.”

  18. Haggie1 says:

    Keep the money, but make sure you factor in that $500 if you are writing checks. If and when they catch their mistake, you don’t to bounce checks when they deduct the $500 from your account.

    As Monopoly says: “Bank error in your favor, collect $500.”

  19. topachic25 says:

    Unfortunately, the $500 may feel great in your pocket, but it won’t feel that great knowing that a teller looses their job. Even if you don’t like banks (i don’t either!), you should consider the affect your choice has on another human being. I manage a credit union and have seen my tellers make a mistake like this. They have figured out the customer they made the mistake with and given a call to see if they can have them come in and hand over the money. Some people have fessed up and come in and apologized “for not noticing”. Some people have flat out said, that didn’t happen! (even though we can see the entire transaction take place on camera) Bottom line is, watching someone cry because they know they are going to loose their job based on someones CHOICE not to be honest sucks. I hope you will simply think about the person that your choice will effect, and any family members they may also be supporting. Just a thought.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      @topachic25: I am squarely in the return the money camp. I know, without a doubt, that I would. If it was a smaller amount, like twenty to thirty dollars, I might not return it that same day, but I’d give a call and let them know I’d be in. However, the teller, in this case and in your cases, failed to do their job properly. If the job is so important, why fail to check and double check a transaction that could mean your job?

      I’ve had the reverse situation happen to me. I made a largish ($1,700 or so) deposit in cash through a drive-up teller. A few hours later the teller calls me up and asks if I was sure of the amount I deposited. I told her yes, I was, I had cashed a check at the originating bank so I could deposit cash so it would be credited immediately. Obviously her drawer was out of balance at the end of the day and I was a suspect. I didn’t hear anything more of the issue, so I assume they either found the money or she got fired. I didn’t appreciate having to defend my action because of her mistake, though.

      • sponica says:

        @Liam Kinkaid: not that i’ve ever worked at a bank, but i’ve worked retail…and at the movie theater concessions they practically throw you a party if you’re even at the end of the night. the sheer volume of business alone dictates that things aren’t going to happen correctly, bills get stuck together, people change their orders 5 thousand times, soda/popcorn/etc gets spilled (though I doubt this happens at a bank), management comes through to do a cash pull in the middle of a transaction.

        I mean we’ve all made mistakes on the job…the day I meet someone who’s never ever ever been over or under at the end of the shift, is the day I start looking for those 4 horsemen.

      • chocolate1234 says:

        @Liam Kinkaid:
        Obviously you’ve never worked at a bank. Saying that someone should be more careful is a pretty lame statement. The bottom line is that tellers deal with hundreds of people a day, and they are only human. If they weren’t careful, they wouldn’t have that job. In the three years I was a teller, I only had two incidents like this (but for much less). I was incredibly careful, but I am also human. It happens.

  20. Swearengen says:

    Just as a practical matter, not a moral one, how exactly would they determine that you didn’t hand over the cash? They credited your account based on a cash deposit, and that money goes in the drawer, and at that point your money is indistinguishable from anyone else’s money. There is no paper trail, just the credit to your account. They say you gave them the money, how can tell that you didn’t. When they try to zero out their books at the end of the day, they will come up short, but how are they going to know they are short based on your transaction (unless they come up exactly $500 short)? Perhaps they can go to the security cameras and look at each deposit and see if the teller didn’t count out the $500 before typing in the deposit.

    • pmcpa4 says:

      @TancredoHelmer: If the drawr is $500 short, and there was only one $500 deposit that day, it makes it easy to track.

    • Scarficus Rex says:

      @TancredoHelmer: If you’re wondering what’ll happen if the drawer is more like $505.93 short due to other mistakes throughout the day, or even $1000 short due to another mistake just like it, they’ll probably go over which transactions were large enough to account for something like that, and review those on the security camera footage. They’ll see that Daniel left with the cash.

      • Villnius says:


        If this was a Canadian bank (CIBC, Royal and TD anyways), each transaction would be sealed in its own plastic zip lock envelope and tagged with a transaction number for end of day processing. Both the documents (cheques, deposit slips, etc) and cash are put in there. The documents have to be processed by the system for them to be deposited or debited. I’m told the money is kept separate for book keeping, and in case any of it turns out to be counterfeit — ie. even cash deposits don’t clear until it’s checked. Somebody’s going to notice that the tagged transactions show $500 cash, but it’s not in the envelope. Maybe not right away, but whenever they get around to processing that envelope, and once they’ve finished an investigation, either he’ll get a phone call, or the teller will get canned.

        • Matthew Tarpy says:

          @Villnius: This is a pretty sweet idea…I’ve been wondering now that Chase has the “no envelopes needed” ATMs, how they segregate the money out…and I was wondering if it was something along those line.

    • K-Bo says:

      @TancredoHelmer: surveillance video is my guess

  21. mm16424 says:

    Daniel’s parents should be ashamed of themselves for bringing an ignorantly amoral person into this world.

    • morlo says:

      @topachic25: The only way for the teller to guarantee his/her job is to pay the money out of pocket when counting up the drawer. Even if the customer returns the money, the teller is still revealed to be incompetent.

      How bad would it suck if you returned the $500 AND the teller got fired?

      • Hector De Jesus says:

        @morlo: Actually… mistakes like this happen all the time at banks. Not a huge deal. He just needs to return the money before they find the error and correct it themselves.

      • sponica says:

        @morlo: i’d get fired for making a drawer even at the end of a shift….and this was retail. they’d much rather write me up and give me a lecture about counting my money correctly and make me watch a video…the fact is GOOD workers in retail are hard to find, they’d rather someone be honest about the semi occasional screw ups than try to cover their tracks

        • Liam Kinkaid says:

          @sponica: “i’d get fired for making a drawer even at the end of a shift”

          Not allowing cashiers to “make up” shortages is a very good practice. The reason for this is if you are dealing with cash quite a bit and you have a semi-regular set of goods you’re selling, it’s very easy for you to memorize prices and then not ring someone up. The customer hands you the cash and the cash goes in the drawer for you to remember later. You have to be good with numbers for this to work, because you can’t just write down how much you’re stealing.

          If you screw up and take too much out, your drawer is short. They can’t really prove you were stealing at this point; you might have just screwed up giving someone’s change out.

          The kicker is when your drawer comes out over. The only ways for that to happen is to shortchange a customer or to fail to ring up items but charge anyway. Yeah, if you’re over ten cents here or there, that’s not a big deal. If you’re over ten dollars, it’s really suspicious because a customer would notice that.

          One of the convenience stores I worked at had a saying: “If you’re short, you can’t count. If you’re over, you’re stealing.”

          However, in the banking environment, there is no (or shouldn’t be, at any rate) net movement of money. You go in to cash a check, the cashier gets the check, and you walk out with cash. You go to deposit cash, the cashier gets the cash and your account gets a credit. If something is out of balance, I don’t see what the issue with having the cashier pay the shortage back in. But, then again, I’ve never worked in the banking industry, so I don’t know.

    • halothane says:

      @topachic25: I would extend your comment to people who happily pocket the money when a cashier miscounts their change or a few bills get stuck together. Even if it’s just a couple bucks, it’s still likely a cashier is going to get chewed out for the mistake. Personally, having an extra dollar or two in my pocket isn’t worth some poor register slave getting written up for a simple mistake.

    • Hector De Jesus says:

      @mm16424: I don’t really see any legit reason to beat up on the OP. You people act like you’re the moral authority sometimes.

      Why beat down a person for asking a question? You don’t know jack about the OP other than what he wrote in a paragraph. Quick being so quick to judge…

    • arthurborko says:

      @mm16424: He’s not amoral. It’s pretty obvious he sent consumerist the post because he wanted to be convinced to do the right thing.

      An Amoral person wouldn’t have admitted to the error on a public website unless they were a complete and utter moron.

      I’d rather not believe our original poster was amoral or a moron so we are left to believe that he was just looking for a nudge in the right direction. Hopefully we gave him that.

    • dwb says:

      @mm16424: I think you’ll find this kind of comment is not welcome here.

    • anduin says:

      i think your parents should be ashamed that you’re acting the way you are right now

  22. pmcpa4 says:

    Wow, this doesn’t even belong here! Shame Consumerist. Shame OP.

    I recently disputed a transaction on my USAA Master card, USAA issued a credit. Three days later, The refund from the original company came thru (Weeks beyond when they said they would refund). I called USAA and asked them to take back their credit. It was only $30, but it was still their money.

  23. JonThomasDesigns says:

    The teller will probably lose the job no matter what , they did not count all the cash and checks,they are as good as fired as sad as is

    • chocolate1234 says:

      No, they won’t. If they can find the error (and they will), they’ll be fine. They might be written up, but it happens. A mistake like this is incredibly easy to find. And, when it involves that much money, the teller will be determined to find it.

  24. Skaperen says:

    The reverse happened to me once. I was depositing a paycheck with cash back at a drive through. The teller forgot to give me the cash. So I went in immediately and reported the problem. The manager completely shut down the teller operations for the drive through for 10 minutes and counted all the drawers. She found they were in excess exactly the amount I claimed was not presented, and was listed on my receipt. So I got the cash. I have no idea what happened to the teller involved.

  25. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    Okay, lets first forget the fact this this guy already has brewed up a small cauldron of bad karma… Just the fact of his intent to keep the money (as long as we say it’s okay? Really?)

    Let’s look at some possible outcomes….

    1) The bank never catches on to your mistake, and you keep the money. You now have $500 extra to spend, and every penny of it will weigh on your consience that you are spending someone else’s money.

    2) The teller is going to come up short $500. That’s a significant amount, which will lead to an investigation. She may be charged with larceny if the bank can create a case (which would be false, but it could happen) or at the very least, she will be fired.

    So, congratulations. You can now go to the bar and drink hearty with your $500, while the poor teller, who did nothing more than make an honest mistake, is now trying to figure out how she will pay her rent, and put food on the table for her family.

    So, keep the money, and all the bad karma it will bring you. Remember…. Karma is a bitch, and it will come back to bite you in the ass one way or another.

    …. OR ….

    You could go back to the branch, speak to the manager, and explain the error, and give them the money. This will at least negate your “bad intent” karma, and may even give you a better outlook in general. Maybe you’ll feel better about yourself. Maybe you’ll be able to look in that mirror again.

    Do what you think is right, but remember the consequences if you do the wrong thing.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      @Dooley: I rather doubt that karma is some sort of cosmic accountant, keeping track of your karmic debits and credits in a huge ledger. There are far too many good people that have had very bad things happen to them while the perpetrators of the misdeeds, if punished, are punished in an incommensurate manner to their doings.

      I prefer to believe that karma works in ebbs and flows. Everything you do generates a reaction, whether it is direct or indirect. You might not get your come-uppance, or you might get more than is coming to you. Overall, however, it all balances out.

      But yeah, this guy should return the money. Not because of karma, potential liability, or “he wouldn’t like it if it were done to him”. He should return it simply because it’s not his money and it’s the right thing to do.

  26. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    by the way, the right thing to do would have been to go back to the bank IMMEDIATELY as soon as you found out, and see the very same teller. There is really no need to get anyone in trouble over an honest mistake, and perhaps the “close call” would prompt her to be more careful in the future.

  27. engineerdivo says:

    When I used to work as a bank teller, they kept a 30 day rolling total of your outages. Any shortage or overage would get added to that running total (didn’t matter if it was a shortage or overage, the amount you were out was added to the total.) If the error was found and corrected, the amount was deducted from the total. If the rolling total of your outages ever exceeds $250, you were fired.
    Bottom line, a teller’s job very likely hangs in the balance on whether or not you come forward.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Many years ago when I was a teller we had processes that we had to memorise for transactions. If you were taking a deposit you would count the money in front of the customer – twice, then circle the amount on the deposit slip, then put it in your drawer, then tick beside the amount. For the first few months we were observed and graded on how well we followed processes and we did it so many times it became rote. Therefore if the tick and the circle were there they acted as assurances that we had counted and put the money in the drawer.
    If this teller allowed the deposit without checking everything on the slip was handed over, then they might well lose their job. This will obviously be bad for the teller, but maybe it wasn’t actually a good job for that person if they could make such a large mistake when entrusted with financial transactions. This is just one of those areas where checking and accuracy are very important.
    And, of course Daniel should give the money back. But he knew that before he wrote in, he just needed the nudge that Carey gave him when all his friends will be calling him a fool for doing the right thing.

  29. starrion says:

    1. Bring the money in and talk to the manager


    Otherwise you may get deducted for the missing deposit and never credited for the return.

  30. Corporate_guy says:

    You might have gotten away with it. They would have narrowed it down to you unless someone else also had a 500 dollar deposit. But in the end they might not be able to prove if you failed to give it or if the teller stole it. The teller would have probably been fired.

    Of course you posted this online. So now if they do catch it and narrow it to you and find this post dealing with the same kind of bank, you are screwed. Next time shut up and wait for them to come to you. Odds are they will never confront you because as long as you lie, there is nothing they can prove.

  31. geoffhazel says:

    I heard some advice on a movie once: Never steal something small” or words to that effect. $500 is very small. Now, a suitcase full of Mob cash, a million or so, that’s worth thinking about for more than 30 seconds. This however should be a no-brainer. Back to the bank! By the time we are all hashing this out it’s been far too long.

  32. geoffhazel says:

    What if you noticed a clerk in the grocery store gave you a 10 instead of a 1 for change? What would you do then?

  33. deverbative says:

    I used to deposit large sums in the bank daily (on a campaign not drug money) and when I calculated the balance incorrectly the amount would show up initially, and then be corrected by the next day.

  34. diasdiem says:

  35. JayDeEm says:

    When I have deposited cash at my local WaMu they always put it into an envelope and write/print something on there, presumably something to do with my account or transaction. Assuming they do it the same way at your branch I would think that would be a pretty easy thing to reconcile at the end of the day.

  36. Zclyh3 says:

    All I know is that if they do find out, (and they probably will), you could face charges. Do the right thing and pony up the money.

    HOWEVER, if the manager let’s it slide, then more power to you.

  37. Petra says:

    I was in a similar situation several years ago as a high schooler. I worked at a dinky little cinema and on Saturday mornings, I was usually in charge. On mornings like that, I would send one of my coworkers across the street to a Wells Fargo with several hundred dollars to get it changed to smaller bills. On Saturdays, only one teller is at the bank, and when my coworker returned, we noticed the bag was far, FAR fatter than usual. Turns out, when we counted it, the teller had given us an extra $500 in $1 bills.

    Both my coworkers became incredibly excited and began talking about what we could buy by splitting the cash, and boy were they furious when I informed them that we would be returning the extra cash right away, which we did. The teller didn’t even say thanks!

    In all honesty, at that age I was such a goody-two-shoes that I just couldn’t cope with the thought of stealing and causing a teller to lose her job, as well as tainting the reputation of the theatre and it’s employees (teenage workers already get such a bad rep anyways) but now that I’m older (and less of a goody-goody!), when I tell the story today I usually give the valid excuse that on a slow Saturday it would have been easy to find out where the missing $500 went and forgo mentioning the moral reasons behind the decision!

  38. P_Smith says:

    Who even has to think about it?

    Even if there were no legal consequences or the OP were never to be caught, any decision other than honesty is disgusting.

  39. Chris Knight says:

    Consumerist is all about exposing companies when they are dishonest with customers. If people here can’t hold themselves to the same high standards they want to hold companies up to then then this site isn’t worth a damn.

    Daniel, get your ass back to the bank and explain your mistake to a manager. Come clean, and be a decent human being.

  40. BeThisWay says:

    I used to be a bank teller, and Ican tell you t hat there is no way this guy would be able to get away with it. This error will most likely be caught as soon as the teller closes out for the day. Each teller uses an adding machine to keep track of each transaction – not simply to calculate totals. When he/she counts and winds up anywhere near $500 short they’ll freak for 5 seconds, then find this error withing 5 minutes. Or sooner.

    The OP should go into the bank and return the money, period.

    And I’m glad I don’t know this guy. I’ll bet if he comes over for dinner the $20 bill on my side table will mysteriously fall into his pocket.

    • mythago says:

      @BeThisWay: Ever gone out with a big group of people, and after everybody “pays their share” the total comes up short? I bet Daniel was That Guy.

  41. JollyJumjuck says:

    “How can I help you, young man?”
    “I got a hundred dollar check from my Grandma, and my Dad said I need to put it in the bank so it can grow over the years.”
    “Well that’s fantastic! A really smart decision, young man. We can put that check in a money market mutual fund, then we’ll reinvest the earnings into foreign currency accounts with compounding interest aaand…it’s gone!”
    “Uh, what?”
    “It’s gone. It’s all gone.”
    “What’s all gone?”
    “The money in your account. It didn’t do too well, it’s gone.”
    “What do you mean? I have a hundred dollars!”
    “Not any more you don’t. Poof!”

    – South Park S13E03

  42. Hector De Jesus says:

    Used to work as a senior teller for 5 years… The teller will be short the $500 at the end of the day. It won’t come out of her personal check unless they can prove like she stole it something. They’ll go through her transactions and see if she actually calculated the $500 cash in the deposit. Sometimes it can slip through the cracks but most of the time it will be caught. A common dollar amount of $500 will take a little longer to be caught but they’ll catch in and immediately debit the account.

    As far the morality of the situation… don’t be a jerk. I know it seems like “free money” and all but this can personally mess someone up (the teller). She can be denied a raise or be terminated if the amount that her drawer is out of balance reaches a certain amount for the quarter. Go into the branch and explain the situation to a manager. Deposit the $500 and everything will be okay.

    BTW… your account will be debited at some point.

  43. Felix the Cat says:

    Keep it! Probably they will deduct it from your account if they already haven’t. But you never know they might not.

    You are at least half way honest. Some people would just close their account and take the extra money with them.

    Now if it were Bank of America we could all get a good laugh at them. They deserve any screwing a customer can give them!!!!!


    • supercereal says:

      @Felix the Cat: I stand by each of my previous comments that call you an idiot. Ethics apparently don’t apply to the little guy because the big guy deserves to be stolen from!


    • K-Bo says:

      @Felix the Cat: Read what you wrote here : “Keep it! Probably they will deduct it from your account if they already haven’t. But you never know they might not.”

      Then imagine the huge mess of over drafts and bounced transactions and all that when they decide to deduct it from his account 2 months after he spends it. They get extra money from the fees, he gets a big huge headache. Seems to me like he would end up being the one screwed.

    • mythago says:

      @Felix the Cat: Doesn’t work that way, but thank you for displaying your complete ignorance of how the banking system works.

  44. Dave says:

    My advice: Return to the branch as soon as possible to report the error to the Branch Manager or Teller Supervisor.

    Tellers generally have to balance their cash drawers every day, so chances are that the bank is currently aware of the shortage. Most banks utilize a proof area that reviews each deposit and looks for any anomalies (incorrect endorsement, missing credit/debit items, etc). When a teller is out of balance, the proof area is alerted and that teller’s work for the day is reviewed carefully to ensure everything adds up and matches the deposit slips. This step would usually catch the error that has been described, as the proof area should notice that the deposit total of all items presented did not match with the total printed on the deposit slip and credited to the account. When this occurs, the bank usually does two things: 1) corrects the deposit, and 2) reprimands the teller. You’ll likely receive a letter in the mail and the teller will receive a reminder on proper cash handling.

    If for some reason the bank did not catch the error, I doubt that the teller would have to pay the difference out of their paycheck. However, that teller’s job may be in jeopardy, depending on the bank’s policy on performance losses.

    Caveat: I currently work for a large national bank in branch operations. I would wager that the majority of tellers have made a similar mistake in their career, as it can happen quite easily. Your average bank teller is probably handling at least 150-200 transactions a day and all it takes is a momentary distraction or lapse in judgment to result in a difference. This isn’t an excuse for inaccurate work, but an explanation on how it may occur.

  45. ophmarketing says:

    Having worked in a bank, I can assure you that the teller has already been reprimanded, and possibly even fired, for what will be seen as his/her error, If the OP had noticed it before the day was out and brought it back to the attention of that teller, it’s POSSIBLE that it could have been put into the drawer and not resulted in disciplinary action. Obviously he should still return it, but it may be too late for the bank teller.

  46. Felix the Cat says:

    A further thought on the topic: Now and then you read about some armored car service losing a bag of money and some ‘good citizen’ returns $300,000 to them and gets a $50 reward or a certificate for a Big Mac and Fries.

    I can’t wait for a bag of money to fall out of an armored car, in fact I drive around behind them whenever I can. One of these days that door will just pop open and a bag of money will fall out. Just see if they get the damn thing back!

    • Coles_Law says:

      @Felix the Cat: Enjoy your stint in jail then. Hope it’s worth it.

      • supercereal says:

        @Coles_Law: It wouldn’t be too hard to figure out who has the “missing” bag here. Just follow the bills’ serial numbers and look for the moron with the big blue ink stain on her face.

        I really hope this was a sarcastic post…

        • Liam Kinkaid says:

          @supercereal: You wouldn’t take the bag from a bank to bank armored car, where you would have the possibility of getting sequential bills. Your best bet would be to follow one of the armored cars that pick up deposits from stores and take them to the banks. Those deposits are all sealed up in plastic bags, ready for the bank to open and count. The money has already been in circulation, so it’s non sequential, and the plastic would protect the bills from any dye packs that might be hiding.

          Now I just have to figure out which one of the hundreds of armored car’s back doors are about to pop open and hit a bump at just the right time so some of those canvas bags can jump out of their bins out onto the road. Man, this is gonna take some pretty precise timing.

  47. greggen says:

    When I lived in California I banked at the Naval credit union.
    I withdrew $100 and the receipt showed a $100 deposit. So I went back and tried to report the mistake. The original teller said I was mistaken, receipt was right, she was acting like I was trying to scam her. I had to talk to the credit union manager and only then did the teller recognize her mistake. Still treated like a scam artist it was demanded that I give up the false receipt. I had to argue to get a corrected receipt.
    Am mostly honest, but the main reason I jumped through these hoops to correct this was that the tellers were officers wives, and I would have had gotten in trouble with my command if they discovered the mistake without me reporting it…

  48. morganlh85 says:

    Can you imagine if you were playing Monopoly and you got the chance card “$100 bank error in your favor” then later in the game you had to pay back the $100 plus 7 overdraft fees? lol

  49. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    WHEN the bank finds out they will deduct the money from his account – hopefully not cascading into a series of insufficient funds charges on purchases made in the meantime.

  50. Michael Patrick Dougherty says:

    This article has done an excellent job of allowing people to trash some poor kid in order to feel good about themselves.

    I huge percentage of posts here surmise that the guy “wanted to keep the money and was looking for permission…what a horrible person”. Then they continue to compare him to themselves “He isn’t a super moral soldier like I am”. Hypocritical losers.

    The way our economy is going right now I bet you anything that these same people who are bashing the kid would find a way in their highly intelligent minds to justify keeping the greenbacks. Personally I feel that it is the bank teller’s job to “request” the funds from you that you wish to deposit. They didn’t do their job.

    If the bank asks you for the cash, fine. Turn it in. But if they don’t contact you…that is their problem.

  51. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The bank doesn’t know if it was an honest mistake, a crooked teller, or a smooth talking Paper Moon short changer.

    Paper Moon:

  52. HomersBrain says:

    I like how the OP brings up the recession….what differnce does that make ? If you’re an honest person, you’re honest in good times and bad.

    • K-Bo says:

      @HomersBrain: Seriously, people don’t seem to see that who you are is more about who you are when things get tough, not just when everything is going great. It is easy to be moral in the good times, but I want the friends who are moral in the bad too.

  53. PlasmaMachine says:

    Sure you could keep it, but then you’re just going to bitch and moan when they find out the error and eventually readjust your deposit and take $500 out of your account. Then I’m sure you’d write a big letter saying how you got screwed and so on.

  54. watchout5 says:

    Maybe it’s just me but I hate everything about Chase, I don’t care what the amount is if they screwed up it’s their own damn fault. They steal billions from the tax payers but because we called it a “bailout” no one goes to jail. It’s not like they’re going to miss it, you should tell them you’re just taking your tax money back since it was obvious they didn’t need it anymore you saw no problems taking it.

    However in the real world you’d better return the money, if you don’t the money will disappear from your checking account and will overdraft you if you can’t cover it, they’ll surely not be too happy with you (though it’s really 100% their fault). If you can wait till tomorrow though, so when their till is $500 short tonight their manager can yell at them. Turn this into a learning experience, but I wouldn’t expect to actually get $500 from them, they need to give that money to rich people.

  55. Kevin Babbles says:

    Last year, I had a bank error in my favor of almost $30,000. I had made a cashier’s check to pay for a new vehicle, which was exactly half the amount that mysteriously showed up in my savings account. Apparently, rather than deducting the amount from my account, the banker had erroneously added that amount instead. As it stood, I owned a new car, I didn’t pay for the new car, and I got a cash bonus in the amount of the car.

    I returned to the bank (of America) the next day to try to sort it out. I told the teller my issue, and she said the computers weren’t working properly to check out the transaction. According to her, the bank doesn’t make mistakes like that, but I could come back another time to verify the account if I liked. You would THINK that if a customer came in trying to give back $30,000, they would take it more seriously and not let me just walk out, but apparently you would think wrong.

    Someone advised me to give it another week to let the bank just catch the mistake on their own, with the theory that if I tried to report it and they independently caught it, there was a chance they would take the money out twice over and I would have a hell of a time trying to get my rightful money back, so I did just that.

    In the meantime, I researched the law and discovered that while bank customers have 60 days to find and report a mistake against them, the banks have no limitation. I found anecdotes from people who had had the money taken back from them up to 10 years later, without warning, and sometimes earning them fines or criminal charges. Also it is apparently many banks’ policy to not admit to making mistakes until after they correct the money.

    After a few weeks of no action on the bank’s part, I called the company and spoke to increasingly higher employees until someone finally acknowledged the error and said he would take care of it. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to give money back.

    The next week, my Bank of America ATM card mysteriously wouldn’t work, so they “let” me take out money on my credit card without informing me there would be a $17 transaction fee. Understandably, I lost my temper at them for having just given them 30 grand back only to have them not extend the same courtesy and hit me with a bullshit fee soon after.

  56. H3ion says:

    I’m surprised Daniel hasn’t already been notified by the bank. Hell, he made a deposit, had time to write Consumerist, etc. Maybe it’s because it’s the weekend but there’s almost no way that the bank won’t discover the error. The teller’s accounts have got to balance at the end of the day.

    If Daniel was a mensch (Yiddish word, look it up), he wouldn’t be asking this question. He would have gotten himself back to the bank as soon as he knew about the error (or at least called) and made the transaction complete.

    As it is, he looks like a gonniff (another Yiddish word)and he most definitely a schmuck.

  57. samson says:

    honestly only counts on the personal level. Not if you are a president or a ceo. Being able to justify horrible things only counts when giving people bank loans or the excuse to invade a country to control its oil supply.
    The problem is thier is back and forth on whether he should do the right thing. I beleive in doing the right thing. I have learned it may be better to do the thing that is most profitable.
    Game theory
    Return money you are fine.

    Deposit the 500 in your account and act like it is not there. if they catch it you are fine.

    They catch mistake and maybe you have some problems.

    I beleive a sense of entitlement is required for doing bad things on an epic scale.

    What is best for the shareholders?

    What is best for me?

    It only counts if the consequences are greater than the profit + risk.
    Where are the wmd?

  58. Cupajo says:

    I think you are perfectly justified in making the bank fill out a bunch of bullshit forms and wait on hold for forty minutes when they call you to inquire about the money, before you give it back to them. It’s what they would do to you if the situation was reversed.

  59. Mr.Compliance says:

    I can’t believe this is even a topic.

    Hand it back. The teller has to count their cash drawers at the end of their shift. They’ll find out that he or she is short $500 and they’ll look through the day’s activity. Cash deposits and cash back. My guess is that they’ll find it eventually. If not the teller, who’s making not real good money to begin with, will get fired. Way to ‘stick it’ to WaMu!

    The definition of ethics is doing the right thing when no one is looking.

    • chocolate1234 says:

      Exactly. I’m surprised at the number of people saying “heh. heh. stick it to the bank”, which in actuality, it won’t affect the bank in the slightest. For the corporation itself, $500 is nothing. The teller is the one who will be affected – and could very well lose their job.

  60. HRHKingFridayXX says:

    I hate to be a negative nancy, but odds are that unless he returned the money right away, the teller was fired at the end of the shift/day/week when their drawer didn’t balance. Personally, I’d play the wait and see game if a significant amount of time has already passed.

  61. William Driscoll says:

    The teller will end up short and will be audited, to many of those and you lose your job. The teller may be written up for such a large amount. You and teller both made a mistake, don’t mess with someones livelihood at the expense of $500. You are not hurting the bank at all since the government is printing off money for them anyway.

  62. SacraBos says:

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    You can look at that statement and realize that Daniel should give the money back, since he would have them do the same to him. You can also look at this in terms of how the bank(s) are doing unto others (for “your convenience”), thus you should do the same unto them.

    It does make for an interesting ethical dilemma. But in this case, you better give it back. They’ll likely figure it out.

  63. Azteck says:

    Don,t worry about its only 500 bucks in your favor. One less teller to worry about making mistakes. But the next time you loose your wallet don’t bitch about folks not returning your stuff. You will be judge for your actions and deeds not by any higher being but by fate and luck. Life is a bitch and IT will remind you of it one day soon. Easy come and easy go works both ways. enjoy the rest of your day.

  64. Anonymous says:

    If we are going to critique the ethics of banks, business, and lawmakers…then it means holding yourself to the same ethical level. The problem currently in this country is that too many people at all levels think that ethics are relative. They mean what I think they mean. There is no black and white. Until we get back to living (and teaching our children about) in a world of right and wrong none of this mess will ever be cleared up.

    The ethical (right thing) to do is return the money.

  65. James Ebbs says:

    You really think they’re not going to take the money back when they figure out the mistake?

  66. Blair Herman says:

    I have worked for 2 different financial institutions (still work for one) and neither of them would have forced a teller to pay for an outage from his or her paycheck.

    They also have balancing standards, so you might not get FIRED for an outage that much (especially if you can recover it) but you will definitely get in some sort of trouble, such as a write up/no raise/etc. However, I will say that in my experience, larger amounts are easier to find than say, $10. It is much easier to find a 100 dollar outage than a 10 dollar one.

    Also, if it is the same day/business day, if the teller realizes the error it is possible that they just reverse the transaction and redo it correctly without notifying the customer.

    Anyway, the point is, take the money back! It’s really just sleazy not to.

  67. driver905 says:

    I had a bank agent give me a $8000 CD without ever collecting a check from me because they were so busy trying to sell me a checking account while I was buying the CD. I realized later what happened and went in as they opened the next day and gave her the check. She was not as appreciative as I thought she might have been, considering it was her screwup.

  68. Bob Lu says:

    As bank customers don’t you have have that “if the bank don’t ask for it within 30 days it is mine” policy?

    I mean, when banks steal from you, it is your responsibility to find it out and ask them to fix it, isn’t it?

  69. Bs Baldwin says:

    Talk to a branch rep asap so they don’t flag your account.

    When the bank reconciles the machine it will show the $500 difference. They will post the full deposit to your account, but will put a hold on your account until they post the correction.

  70. PsiCop says:

    Having worked as a bank teller, I can say several things about this:

    1. Each teller balances out his/her drawer at the end of the day and compares this to total deposits/withdrawals/other activity. Unless the teller made other cash errors that day which offset your $500 overage, s/he will be out of balance by that amount.

    2. The teller and the branch s/he works at WILL attempt to find that $500. It will NOT just be written off. With that amount of money at stake, it will be researched until it is found or until all possibilities have been exhausted.

    3. It WILL be noted that you had a $500 cash entry on your deposit slip, and depending on that teller’s activity for the day, this by itself will make them suspect that you’re the one who’s $500 up on them. Do not assume they cannot figure it out.

    4. They have cameras. For $500, they’ll sit through video footage in order to see who handed over cash and who didn’t. Especially when, in light of #3, they realize you should have provided exactly that amount.

    5. If they do not figure it out, it’s easily possible the teller will lose his/her job over it. So YOUR mistake could harm someone irreparably.

    6. It IS possible that they may never figure it out … or they know it’s you not be able to prove it well enough to take back your ill-gotten $500 … but the odds of that happening are infinitesimal. Do not assume you will get away with keeping the $500 … especially given #2 (they won’t just let $500 walk away) as well as #6 (they’ve got cameras).

    The bottom line is, go back to the branch you made your deposit in. Ask to speak to the manager. Admit what happened, hand over the $500, and have done with it. I’ll bet the personnel in that branch will take VERY good care of you, from then on.

  71. hoffmeister_hoff says:

    Is this a real post? Are there really people this stupid?

  72. baristabrawl says:

    If he keeps the $500 they’ll find him and ask him for it. It’s wrong for him to keep it and. The Karmic Circle has a very tight turning radius.

  73. jp7570 says:

    Of course, if it was $5 million and a bonus that was from the US Treasury Department, then it would be ok. No wait, that’s stealing too.

    • Azteck says:

      @jp7570: you know your congress ok most of the deals and bonuses for the banks that went with them. Like always once most americans found out congress acted like it was the first time they had ever heard of such a thing. Congress is the biggest group of thieves out there. So stop biatching obout the banks getting a break or bonuses and start complaining about the dicks we voted in that allowed them in the first place.

  74. Daniel Ocasio says:

    Keep the money until they request it back…they can’t blame you for not taking the initiative of bringing it back…as long as you bring it back immediately when they ask for it then you’ll be fine.

  75. skycrashesdown says:

    If this happened to me at my bank: we’d discover the error by the end of the day at the latest. We often balance our tills before we go to lunch, and start balancing our cash an hour before we close.
    The first thing that would happen is someone else would double-count my cash to verify the shortage. We’d look at all the ticket work and immediately narrow it down to any $500 transactions. I’d very likely remember the guy who gave me a bunch of checks and realize I’d entered cash but hadn’t received any. Account debited the $500, customer called, issue solved.
    My drawer has never once been off by so much as a penny in the eleven months I’ve worked there, and neither have either of my co-worker’s. An unexplainable $500 shortage is absolutely grounds for firing if the manager feels it’s appropriate.

  76. Anonymous says:

    I don’t se why this would be theft. It is theft when banks make a mistake in their benefit? No. So, this can’t be theft either.

    I would go back, and give them the money, minus a over-credit fee of $35 and a restocking fee of $35. They charge customers those fees, so they can’t complain about a customer charging them the same.

  77. Joanna Franz says:

    The same thing happened to me, only for a much smaller amount. I deposited something like $600 in cash and the teller must have miscounted by $6 or so, in my favor.

    A week later, the bank realized their error and took the $6 out of my account (this was at Bank of America if that makes a difference). If Daniel assumes the money is “his” and spends accordingly, he could end up bouncing checks.

  78. Jen Barnett says:

    Lets say you succeed in keeping the $500. Thousands of people reading about your accidental windfall begin trying to recreate your mistake. In the short term, bank processes glut up with the extra steps and training needed to manually guarantee that every deposit slip equals every deposit.

    In the long term, outside entrepreneur develops cost-effective machine or ATM peripheral to count and process every bill and check as it appears. Cycle completes in 5-10 years.

    Best case scenario, keep $500, brag about it online, then invent that machine. Or just return it like your momma taught you.

  79. sam1am says:

    Every penny counts. … except to the bank – I’m sure they don’t need that money at all. /sarcasm

  80. Dirk says:

    I normally don’t like doing shady business but in a time of recession every penny counts.

    I’m amazed the OP is justifying his “shady behavior” (a.k.a. THEFT) because of tough times.

  81. Daniel Munoz says:

    What I want to know is why is Consumerist handling this douche with kid gloves? He “forgot” about his $500 and he’s gently encouraged to go back to the bank. But if a Walgreens had rung up a speedstick that was marked as $2.19 as $2.49 the headline would say “Walgreens Robs and Hates It’s Customers” and demand they give every customer a $100 gift card for their inconvenience

  82. rwalford79 says:

    Same thing happened to me with a “chargeback” for $97.00 once in 2004.

    I was disputing the charge of $97.00 for a mobile phone I bought and later returned, and had the bank reverse the charge when the company I bought the phone from refused to refund me, even went so far as to threaten to never give me my money back…

    The bank returned the charge and gave me $97.00 back, and the next week I got a check for $97.00 from that company I had the phone from. Needless to say I called the bank, and they said, it didnt matter, cause they already pushed it through, and the check was still valid, and the company lost $194 and it was my gain. WAMU was my bank as well… and they didnt give a crap!

  83. Will Sparks says:

    How about be honest

  84. maztec says:

    They will find it in the account tally that night. They are supposed to add up the money every hour and make a note based on it. They will withdraw it and mark it as a mistake, not fraud – unless you try to insist they had it.

  85. chrisjames says:

    Can we put a Bad Consumer tag on this for asking The Consumerist for tips on stealing from the bank?

  86. chocolate1234 says:

    Ohhh, they are GOING to catch him. The teller is going to be $500 short when he/she goes to balance their drawer. Even if he never were to get caught, this teller could lose their job. Do the right thing.

    P.S. They WILL catch him. That’s what cameras are for. The teller will go through all the work, and usually can remember who gave them what, and which denominations they received. When they get to this transaction, they’re going to think, “hm, I don’t remember what they gave me. I wonder if they didn’t give me anything?”. That’s when they’ll check the cameras and notice the guy never handed it over.

  87. Anonymous says:

    I am assuming you signed something and the teller signed something stating the $500 in cash was delivered from you to the teller and deposited in your bank account. Like a receipt? That’s what my credit union does. The teller may have a sort of “electronic signature” on it, but it’s still considered a legal receipt. So I say save your receipts, and save your cash. It is the teller’s responsibility to make sure they’re doing their job correctly. Saying they’re taking $500 from you, and being lazy by not confirming they have in fact received your money before giving you “proof” they have, is sloppy on their part. So don’t feel bad for what may happen to them. If WaMu contacts you threatening to deduct the money from your account, tell them you have a receipt stating their teller received the money from you, and then threaten them with legal action if they keep hassling you for their teller’s mistake. Deny, deny, deny, my friend. Sometimes people get a lucky break. I’d do a lot for an extra $500 right now. Congrats.

  88. mariospants says:

    Well, even though you say you don’t like “shady business” it sounds like you’re happy doing it. Tell you what, give them another chance to rectify the problem by “depositing” the $500 and refusing to give them the money and see how far that takes you.

    Alternatively, if you really want to go shady you could go half way and actually deposit it a second time (like in a bank machine after hours) and wait to see what happens. If the bank’s on its toes, you’ll only be ahead by one $500 deposit. If in a month’s time you still have that $1000, then your shady business was a success. If you get any flack you can always claim you deposited the money via bank machine the moment you discovered you still had it.

  89. Elizabeth Rowley says:

    i think we all know, including Daniel, what the right thing to do is. but that said, i can think of many many times that companies like Wamu (and INCLUDING Wamu- they really screwed over my boyfriend on his CC) do NOT do the right thing. We as individuals do feel some personal responsability to do the right thing. however these companies will just pass you around from person to person, with each person saying they don’t know, or its not their responsabilty. Case in point with Wamu, we would finally get transferred to someone who would say they were going to reduce his interest rate (raised due to an error on their part) or credit us fees, etc. Then it wouldn’t show on the statement. We would call back & they would say they either that person was wrong, or that they had no record of that. Whichever it was- either they were super disorganized or decietful and underhanded. That either means they wont catch the mistake, or that they deserve it. Not saying its morally right, but sometimes its tempting to screw them back. Just saying… BTW- i am really not this bad a speller, it is just very late here.

  90. cmbuzzkill says:

    No, they didn’t.

    Next question.

  91. Cruc says:

    I am astounded that someone has to think hard about what to do here, let alone ask everyone on the Internet for advice on how to abscond with $500 and not feel bad about it.


  92. Andy Holt says:

    I doubt that they would track you down and break your knees over it, but $500 is a chunk of money. More importantly though, is that it IS a recession and most likely the last person to touch the money and be reprimanded, if not you, would be the teller. Basically at the end of the day, the drawers are probably counted and they are supposed to come up with some dollar amount of cash that corresponds to the transactions on the computer. There probably isn’t a way for the bank to track who did and did not turn in X amount of cash, as that’s what the teller is supposed to do. But if the numbers don’t crunch, like in the restaraunt business (if the amount in the servers’ book doesn’t match the amount they sold) then likely someone either ran out on their tab (like daniel did) or the server/teller is pocketing some cash on the side. It would be near impossible for the teller to track down and prove that you did not turn in the $500, but it would also be near impossible for the teller to disprove that they pocketed it. Could cost them their jobs if they are suspected of pocketing cash.

    • thesadtomato says:

      @Andy Holt: Yep. Once a teller counted out $100 in twenties to me. An hour later I went to spend one and found that the super-new bills had stuck together, so I had $120. I turned on my heels and went to give it back because I knew she’d have to turn a drawer in at the end of the day. I made a big point of saying how completely stuck together the bills were, hoping she wouldn’t be in any trouble.

  93. ionerox says:

    Screw whether the teller loses their job (that they weren’t doing properly anyway…) But bring the money in and explain. They *will* figure out that it was your transaction that caused the teller to be short and trace it back to you- probably by sending a letter noting that there was an error on your deposit and drawing down $500.

  94. chenry says:

    Happened to me before too. I’d counted out something like 800 dollars in bills, went to the bank, and deposited it through the ATM. When I got home, I noticed I’d dropped a 50 on the way out, so I’d actually only deposited $750.

    My accounted was credited the $800, then debited the $800, and credited $750.

  95. Adam Thibault says:

    I had something similar happen once. I accidentally typed in the wrong amount on a check i was depositing at an ATM 9by about 100 bucks). I realized my mistake when I looked at my receipt. I called the bank and they said they would just adjust the account when they got around to double checking, and that I should make sure not to spend the extra money. A couple days later, I got a notice that the account had been adjusted, and that was that. They’re going to do the exact same thing to the Mr. Daniel. He might as well explain himself.

  96. Jabberkaty says:

    The best part about being honest and truthful is not having to explain things to the police.

  97. SNForrester says:

    The only way to keep the $500 is to cash out your back account immediately, change your name, and make a run for it. I hear the Philippines is a good place to hide. I say go for it!

    By the way, what ever happened to that couple from Australia who found the extra $10M in their bank account and disappeared?

  98. xcharliemx says:

    If you instill the type of morals on your kids that “It’s ok to return money to a corporation” then you better teach them the “nice guys finish last” while you’re at it saying.

    If it’s a neighbor that’s different. If it’s one of the companies that helped run our economy to the ground and STILL can’t get it together? Eff’em.

  99. trujunglist says:

    I just read an issue of Marvel Fanfare, which were stories outlined by the fans and created by big names at Marvel. One of the stories is about this exact same situation. Spider-man goes to deposit money and the exact same thing happened as has happened here, and the teller freaks out, apologizes, but still loses her job because it was a lot of money to make a mistake on. Spider-man ends up having to go through a lot to do the right thing, even though it ends up screwing him over; Spidey is always broke and needed the money.
    I think in this case, you have to consider what kind of person you are. Are you like Spider-man or are you a dishonest criminal? Because your actions don’t just affect you and the bank, it affects others that are not even aware of what may happen to them simply because of a mistake.

  100. Sandi Reed says:

    I was a teller and she would of been short when proofing that night. They;ll look at the deposit slips for any transaction that involves $500 and then they would call you.

    Yes, this teller didn’t do her job and she could lose it because of this shortage.

  101. Cool story bro says:

    I don’t care about the moral issue at stake. The bank certainly doesn’t give a toss if you return it or not. 500 is chump change to wamu.

    But you should still give the money back, because as has been said, if the bank catches this error they will take the money off you. At any time. And slap a bunch of extra fees on you for their trouble.

    There’s every possibility you’ll find yourself 500+ bucks short in a couple of months.

    Too risky in my opinion.

  102. mrearly2 says:

    What should I do? There’s should have been no question about that. You are morally bound to give what you initially failed to give. This goes for everyone out there.
    Sure, the banksters are thieves, but you are still obligated to do what’s right, regardless of their failure to account for the cash.

  103. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    give them their money back.