back to article Spaniard trousers €60,000 bank error, proceeds directly to jail

A Spanish chap whose bank accidentally deposited €60,000 in his account did what any right-minded customer in his position would have done: he immediately trousered as much cash as possible and then refused to hand it back. The unexpected windfall had been intended for another customer, but dropped into the lap of a 50-year- …

  1. Chris Miller

    "My client is a keen Monopoly player, m'lud."

    1. JonP

      If he'd invested the money in property in London that might be a valid defence...

      1. Filippo Silver badge

        60000€ in property in London buys you, what, half of a small room?

  2. Ole Juul

    Rightfully his

    Show the court the e-mail from the Nigerian prince that promised to transfer lots of money to his account.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Rightfully his

      "The e-mail is clearly fraudulent as *I* have one from the Prince dated prior to his..."

      1. Phil W

        Re: Rightfully his

        Are you suggesting a member of the Nigerian Royal Family doesn't have enough money to send €60,000 to multiple people?

  3. Tromos

    Justice for all

    Why wasn't someone from the bank alongside him in court? If he was on trial for misappropriation of funds, a banker should be on trial for misdirection of funds.

    1. Spleen

      Re: Justice for all

      Making a clerical error is not a crime.

      Taking money that doesn't belong to you is.

      Next week in "An Idiot's Guide To Basic Law", we'll be explaining why murder is bad.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: Justice for all

        The money did belong to him, the bank gave it to him. Do you go around asking for gifts back after things like birthday parties? I bet you do, go on admit it!

        1. dotdavid

          Re: Justice for all

          Surprised the bank didn't just give him a 60,000 euro unauthorised overdraft and charge him accordingly. That would probably have happened in the UK at least.

        2. Just Enough

          Re: Justice for all

          "the bank gave it to him"

          How many banks do you know that are in the habit of gifting their customers large amounts of money without explanation or warning? Even on their birthdays. So you would be very foolish to claim that's what you thought happened.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Justice for all

            How many banks do you know that are in the habit of gifting their customers large amounts of money without explanation or warning? Even on their birthdays. So you would be very foolish to claim that's what you thought happened.

            As they were bailed out and kept into high bonuses with my tax money, I would not be surprised to receive a Thank You, and given the charges for their overdraft letters I would not even consider it excessive. At least, that would be my story and I'd stick with it, but that works better if you have parked the funds elsewhere and have not spent them (just to cover all bases). That would be quite a fun one to ride in court for a few month, they'd probably offer a percentage just to make it go away.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Justice for all

            "How many banks do you know that are in the habit of gifting their customers large amounts of money without explanation or warning? Even on their birthdays."

            But, but, but that's the very definition of a surprise!

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Justice for all

        Making a clerical error is not a crime.

        Taking money that doesn't belong to you is.

        Not necessarily. Intending to permanently deprive someone of money usually is but just taking it very likely isn't. It depends upon intent, and, particularly in court, of being able to prove intent.

        His mistake was burning through the money. If he had just said 'no; it's mine', and hoped they'd eventually agree and had kept it to pay back when that failed, it would have been much harder to prove intent to permanently deprive, much harder to convict.

        His best bet would have been to say he took the money out of his account to keep it safe because he feared it would disappear as quickly as it appeared and insist the bank pay him for inconvenience and costs incurred looking after that money being as it was their mistake. He can threaten to, or actually, take them to court if they won't and also has a legitimate counter claim when they take him to court.

        Not that I have any plans as to what I would do should a windfall hit my account :-)

        1. Ken 16 Silver badge

          Re: Justice for all

          perhaps sue for emotional distress caused by the Bank giving you the money then asking for you to be arrested, with damages of a suitably large amount (say €5M) to make it worth their setting out of court for, maybe, €60K?

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: Jason Bloomberg Re: Justice for all

          "....It depends upon intent, and, particularly in court, of being able to prove intent....." Well, kind of. Actually, the prosecution only needs to show that there was no way you could reasonably consider the money yours. The "I thought it was a gift" excuse would not stand up well in court as it would be unreasonable to believe that a bank would just give you such an amount without a some form of communication or statement from the bank as that's their normal procedure. As you point out, the chap in the article demonstarted his intent by not querying the surprise amount with the bank but immediately trying to remove it, then denying his actions.

          The examples most often used in such cases are the restaurant bill, both incorrect and unpaid. If you skip the restaurant without paying your bill it is unreasonable for you to claim you did not know you had to pay the bill as paying for food at a restaurant is the norm, i.e. you must have chosen not to pay. The one that surprises most people is the incorrect bill - if you are undercharged but leave the restaurant knowing you have underpaid you are actually committing theft by breach of contract, though the prosecution would have to show that it was reasonably likely that you realised the billing mistake but still did not pay the full price. In such cases, pleading poor maths skills might get you off as you could claim the bill was too complex for you and you assumed it was correct, "honest mistake, M'lord", but if there is a witness that heard you say "let's go before they realise" then you are stuffed as you have shown intent.

      3. John Tserkezis

        Re: Justice for all

        "Taking money that doesn't belong to you is."

        Every tried to "right" a clerical error the bank made in THEIR favour? Ever tried getting that back without the bank treating you like the customer piece of shit you are? Because that's what it's like.

        It's a one way street my friend, and every road leads AWAY from you.

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Justice for all

          Gosh, lot's of people missed my joke icon above.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Justice for all

      Ah, you are forgetting Golden Rule No.1 - banks and bankers are ALWAYS right and the rest of us are always wrong.

      They have a perpetual Get Out of Jail Free card.

  4. tacitust

    One Law for the Rich...

    Of course, here in the US, if the bank takes money out of your account by mistake, and you don't notice it for more than a month, good luck getting it back...

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: One Law for the Rich...

      Once, a long time ago, I had a bank put a £35.00 rent cheque (I *said* it was a long time ago) through as £3500.00!

      It took almost six months to the fall-out sorted out, even after they'd credited me the money back (which took them over three weeks to "investigate") they then charged me overdraft fees, plus fees for Direct Debits which had failed which then caused me to go overdrawn again...

  5. AndrueC Silver badge

    The money was just resting in my account.

  6. BigG

    What happened to "hauled up before the beak"?

  7. Aaiieeee

    Not worth it

    For 28k? Give it back, its not worth it

    Now if it was a couple of mil..

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Not worth it

      Here's the question: At what amount does it become seriously viable to withdraw the lot, fly to Brazil and acquire a new identity?

      1. vordan

        Re: Not worth it

        I've done the math before: At least 3 mil, 4 or 5 is better.

        (Based on a 2% interest rate for deposits)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not worth it


      2. hi_robb

        Re: Not worth it

        Probably a couple of mill :-)


      3. Def Silver badge

        Re: Not worth it

        Assuming you don't spend the first month there partying like crazy, I reckon most people could survive comfortably with half a million. Buy half a dozen apartments and somewhere for yourself to live, rent them out, you'll survive.

        A plan I am working towards implementing legitimately within a year or two.

        1. Matt 21

          Re: Not worth it

          The point where it seems workable is about 21:30 tonight after a beer or two... suddenly the plan seems a lot clearer and I'm sure a few mates will want to join me in this infallible endeavor....

        2. Hollerith 1

          Re: Not worth it

          How many apartments can you buy in London for half a mil? I figure 1.4, or perhaps 2 in the less-appealing parts of the suburbs.

      4. Ole Juul

        Re: Not worth it

        I'd say you need a believable story. First, your laptop with banking details gets stolen . . . etc. etc. Unfortunately most countries have about a $10 thousand dollar cash or transaction limit at which point the bank is legally obliged to make a report. That one is going to be difficult to get around. So worth it or not, I can't see how you can get away with a large amount.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Not worth it

          "Unfortunately most countries have about a $10 thousand dollar cash or transaction limit at which point the bank is legally obliged to make a report"

          That's why you need a Swiss/Bahamas/Offshore banker in the equation, they know how to deal with these "minor" issues....

          There are many ways of making money disappear without the skilled and deft handiwork of Penn & Teller.

          1. Spaceman Spiff

            Re: Not worth it

            In the USofA it is now $5K before they have to report it... I own a property abroad when my sister is selling. I have to go through impossible shenanigans to avoid getting improperly dinged by the US govt! I don't mind paying the 10% long term gains on the property to the IRS, but I DO object to their ability to sequester my $$ before I declare it on my tax filing. I've owned the property since 2003.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not worth it @Ole Juul

          That a transaction is flagged and the authorities subsequently notified does not mean it will not go through, 10,000 is a pathetically low limit and blocking such transactions would cause havoc.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Getting away with it

          If I remember correctly, someone in the USA received an accidental transfer of a huge sum. She put the money into a trust fund for her daughter, then claimed that she had believed that the money was a gift from an anonymous benefactor, then, presumably, declared herself bankrupt. In effect, she kept the money, for her daughter, without going to prison. I'm not sure what the options are for the bank to get the money back from someone (the daughter) to whom it was given "in good faith", though it's certainly an interesting theoretical question for amateur lawyers so I expect some follow-ups...

      5. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Not worth it

        @Lester Haines

        Are we doing research here Mr. Levin?

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Not worth it

      An ex colleague of mine was doing the normal treasury work for a smallish company. He sent about £100k off to the overnight money markets one day. When he checked the company's account the next day £7 million had come back!

      He did consider transferring it to his own account and seeing how much interest he could earn on it before having to give it back.

      Clearly that should be enough to make the trip to Brasil.

      What was the calculation in the Cryptonomicon? A programn that created an index of property prices and inflation to work out the exact amount of "fuck you money" - where once achieved you never had to worry about money again.

      I think for me I'd want a nice place in the city and another in the country. So maybe a couple of million. Then £50k a year spending money would probably be enough - although I do actually fancy a boat, which ups that quite a bit.

      But things like places abroad and boats can be hired, just as easily as owned. Unless there's somewhere that you love and keep going back to multiple times a year. If you're buying property in London or New York as an investment, why not also let it out for extra cash, and get a suite at the best hotel for the week a year you might actually want to be there?

      You should be able to buy a portfolio of property and shares that gives you well over 5% return over the long term - so £12 million should do. £2 mil to spend, £10m to invest for an income.

      Although "fuck-off money" means not having to count. I've got modest tastes, but I'd want to do quite a bit of long-haul flying, and no-one wants to go cattle class. Those first class tickets soon add up. So maybe £22m, to give £100k a year income is better?

      Then you've got to consider the cost of laundering that kind of money as well.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Not worth it

        @I aint Sparticus

        I would hazard a guess that you have read some Nassim Taleb.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spaniard trousers €60,000 bank error, proceeds directly to

    while The Reputable Bank trousering a couple of extra zeros proceeds directly...

    please don't answer, skin a banker.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spaniard trousers €60,000 bank error, proceeds directly to

      please don't answer, skin a banker.

      Why? Do their hides make good car seats? I suppose a skilled leather worker could get the banker's face tanned nicely and stitched in as the very back of the seat cushion, so you drive around rubbing your....well, y'know what I'm saying.

      But then again, leather seats are a bit bourgeois. What about flaying them all in one piece, putting a fur lining in it, to make a very alternative onesie? I'll bet Fred Goodwin would command a good price for his complete hide. Important question: Would you wear your banker onesie "nude" or put another layer of clothes on top?

      Now, any thoughts on the flayed meat? We could keep 'em alive and wrap them in cling film for the rest of society to laugh at. Or mash them up for pet food. Or sell them to the pre-prepared food industry, since they aren't choosy about what meat they use. Or just take them to the nearest zoo and feed them to the lions.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spaniard trousers €60,000 bank error, proceeds directly to

        Wow. Whatever you've taken, I'd lay it off for a while :).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Spaniard trousers €60,000 bank error, proceeds directly to

          Whatever you've taken, I'd lay it off for a while

          Not sure which of us that was intended for, but if it was me, you'd probably be appalled by the thoughts I have that don't make it to the keyboard. It's a bit of a curse much of the time, but boy, can it be fun at times.

  9. Andy Non

    Idiot bank clerks.

    One day £3000 mysteriously appeared in my current account with the NatWest. A few days later when visiting my dad I mentioned it to him and he said "That's odd, the other day I went to the bank (same branch) and asked the clerk to transfer £3000 from my savings to current account."

    My dad contacted the bank and the unexpected windfall disappeared from my account and into my dad's. Very careless bank clerk. Don't know what happened to him/her, probably nothing.

  10. Dan McIntyre


    I was once paid double by my employer, at that time a local council where I was working in the housing benefit office.

    They wrote to me asking for the money to be returned, but stating that I wasn't legally obliged to as it had been their mistake. I returned the money. Wasn't worth the hassle as I had to work there at the end of the day - didn't want grief from them.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Windfalls

      As I understand the current law, you can't keep the money from an error like that. Unless the employer choose to let you. But if you've gone out and spent it, they're not allowed to just not pay you the next month, or demand the whole lot back in one go. So you get it as an interest free loan, to pay back in monthly installments.

      Although HMRC can decide at the last minute that they've calculated your PAYE wrong, so that you get paid almost nothing for the last 2 months of the financial year, because the rules are different for them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windfalls

        That sounds about right.

        IANAL but I understand that UK law is along the lines of, "you can't keep it if it was obviously an error".

        So for example if a company accidentally sends you a big sum of prize money you can keep it because you might legitimately think you'd won their prize draw.

        On the other hand if it mysteriously appears in your account for no apparent reason then you can't keep it because you well know it isn't yours.

        1. J P

          Re: Windfalls

          It used to be the case (under the 18something-or-other Bills of Exchange Act) that acceptance by a bank of a clearly deficient document would 'rectify' the document - by honouring something which they should have realised should not be honoured, they made themselves liable for that error.

          Or in other words, a personal cheque for John Smith signed (legibly) Mickey Mouse or equivalent, if honoured, then became binding on the bank that honoured it, regardless of whether there were funds available on the original personal account - even if the cheque were otherwise clearly deficient, eg for £1m on an overdrawn current account. The principle was based on something to do with international letters of credit, but at the time was still also applicable to personal cheques.

          Can't remember all the details, or whether it's still effective, as it was a long, long time ago that I did a Masters in International Commercial Law, but I do remember discussing in detail with an ex whose friend had written her a £1m cheque signed Winston Churchill...

  11. wowfood

    So just to confirm.

    If the bank accidently transfers £60,000 into my current account, and I transfer said money to pay off my mortgage. When the bank subsequently asks for that money back. I would effectively be up a tree without a paddle.

    I wonder if there's a statute of limitations on this kind of thing, if it's in your account for 12 months unnoticed, you get to keep it :P

    1. Steven Jones

      Re: So just to confirm.

      Unnoticed by whom? If you didn't notice, then I'd worry about your ability to manage your finances. However, if you did notice it, and just let is sit there hoping nobody else would spot it with the intention of spending it eventually, then at the very least it's repayable through the civil law and, most likely, it's actually an offence. It's roughly the equivalent of finding a wallet stuffed with money in the street and not handing it into the police (although nobody is going to care much over trivial amounts, like a lost £1 coin). People have been prosecuted for such things, like this couple who found a winning lottery ticket and cashed it in.

      Of course laws will vary across the World. This is the position in the UK.

    2. Matt Siddall

      Re: So just to confirm.

      From what I remember of working in the pensions world, if we accidentally overpaid someone's pension and didn't notice for 6 years, we couldn't recover it (or at least could only recover the extra paid in the last 6 years) - I believe the same limit would apply here.

      tl;dr: statute of limitations is likely to be 6 years for this sort of thing (in the UK at least)

    3. Chris Evans

      Re: So just to confirm.

      Well you six years to invoice people so I suspect six years to claim it back.

  12. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Handling charge for sending a letter.

    They seem to get away with it.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Handling charge for sending a letter.

      Parcel Farce recently charged me a 'handling fee' for holding onto a parcel while I paid the import VAT of £17.50. The handling charge was £8 and they only had to hold on to it for two nights. From talking to the exporter it seems they paid less than that to get the item across the Atlantic.

      Nice work if you can get it :-/

  13. Steve Todd

    If I remember correctly

    You are allowed to withdraw the money and place it in a high interest account. You have to return it on request, but you can keep any interest earned. You should inform the bank that you believe there to have been a mistake. If they don't request the money back inside of 6 months in those circumstances it becomes yours.

    1. Martin

      Re: If I remember correctly

      You are allowed to withdraw the money and place it in a high interest account.

      Good luck finding one of those these days!

      1. Steven 1

        Re: If I remember correctly

        "Of course you can have the money back, once the bond matures in 5 years I'll gladly transfer back the original capital to you..."

  14. Simon B

    However, if YOU enter the wrong account number when transfering money to someone, the bank say: Your mistake, transaction is done now, and we can't do anything about it. We followed your instructions precisely.

    One rule for the banks, another for us mere mortials.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The bank is indeed right, but that does not mean you won't get your money back. I'm sure they will be happy to contact the recipient for you and ask them to return it.

      At least, here in France, whoever gets money by mistake is bound to give it back. The cause of the mistake is irrelevant (Code Civil, article 1376, promulgated more than one year before the Battle of Trafalgar).

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Simon B,

      The bank aren't allowed to steal the money. I believe this is one of those legally complicated areas. Sometimes, the bank are allowed to just acknowledge the error, and sweep the money back. Sometimes they'd have to ask, and only pay you back for your mistake, once they're paid.

      What they wouldn't be allowed to do is get the money back, and leave you out of pocket.

      In the case of an erroneous transfer on their part, then they would try to get the cash back, but would have to compensate the account holder they took the cash from.

  15. Andy Landy

    titles, schmitles

    a year or two ago our lovely accounts lady came by and said sorry we accidentally overpaid you this month, and is it ok if we just pay you that much less so it balances out?

    i was like "yeah that's fine... errr... hang on, how much are we talking here?"

    her: "three pence"

    me: "ooh, a life-changing sum!"

  16. Anon E. Mouse
    IT Angle


    A local farmer took more drastic measures when the reverse happened to him a good few years ago

    1. jzl

      Re: Sh...

      I love the way guys like that try to get back "at Natwest" for an error made by an employee. It's as if they think Natwest is an actual person with feelings which can be offended. It's not. It's a company, and a big one at that.

      His actions simply gave some Natwest branch employees a day of excitement to remember. They all still got paid.

      The whole episode is probably recorded somewhere in a Natwest profit and loss ledger under "incidental expenses", and that's the extent of the effect of his protest.

      My office at a large corporation a few years back was invaded by protesters. We all just thought it was funny and a light diversion from the day's work.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Sh...

        He probably generated a good deal of bad publicity.

        If I'd been screwed around by a bank for ten years, I don't know how I'd react, but I'd be pretty frustrated too.

  17. Chris_B

    In Greece

    this sort of thing is known a 'special' loan that doesn't need paying back.

    What's the difference ? :)

    1. Spleen

      Re: In Greece

      What's special about that in Greece?

  18. Roger Mew

    What is good for the goose.

    Some years ago a certain bank told the legal department that a client was £100,000 in debt and they got the various documentation, sheriff and bailiffs went out to the man's house. He was not a happy bunny, these guys turned up when he was at work, conned his wife to let them in, she rang him and he shot home. Conned the bailiff to go into the garage and locked him in. He then called the police. Oh was he in the doo doo. But wait, the bank had got 1 number wrong, the man actually had £100,000 + in his bank account and a load more in a savings account. He insisted that the bank return all the money, the bank paid a load of money to the police, bailiffs etc to shut up and the man wanted the £2590,000 in cash the next morning. He got it. He then paid it all into a rival bank, in cash.

    This incident happened about 25 years ago in Norfolk. Thing is the bank should also have been prosecuted, they did exactly the same and all they got was an expensive lesson.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is good for the goose.

      But this was done 'on a computer.'

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here is how to KEEP the cash

    A little trick I saw done in a divorce case would have got him to keep the 60k.

    You spend the money at a Casino, you then have a paper trail that ends right there.

    They can't prove you did not lose it and you do not need to gamble a penny, you convert to chips, enjoy the free dinner you get at Casino's and then convert your chips to cash.

    Now can someone tell me how to get a bank error in my favour?!!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like