Bank error costs retiree $30,000

Nearly 2 years' worth of Social Security benefits were deposited in the wrong account, but Bank of America said it couldn't fix the problem.

By Karen Datko Jul 14, 2011 2:05PM

Why is it that when banks make mistakes, they never seem to be held accountable?


The latest newsworthy blunder came to light thanks to David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times, and it's a doozy: About $30,000 in Social Security benefits, about two years' worth, were direct-deposited into the wrong person's account after Bank of America assigned the same account number to two different customers. The bank didn't do anything about it, even after the retiree's family complained.


Once the local district attorney's office got involved, the Social Security Administration -- NOT the bank -- made good on the missing money.

A Bank of America spokeswoman called it "an unusual and unfortunate incident" but had very little else meaningful to say.  


Lazarus didn't hold back: "I'm glad (the retiree) got his money. And it's reassuring that justice was served. But BofA's actions, or non-actions, are deeply troubling, to say the least." Post continues after video.

Here are the details, courtesy of Lazarus:


BofA gave Robert Weber, now 88, a new account number in 2009 because of what it called "suspicious activity" in his account. The same account number was also given to another customer. The Social Security Administration received the account number and continued depositing Weber's monthly checks.


Weber's family got involved in his financial affairs in December after his health, including eyesight, began to fail and noticed that his Social Security payments had dried up in March 2009.


This is where the outrage factor cranks up: "The bank manager said they could see on the screen that my grandfather's checks were going to a different account," Weber's grandson, David Madden, told Lazarus. "But they said there was nothing they could do about it."


Alerted by Madden and his father, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department looked into the matter, and BofA showed a deputy the same thing on the computer screen. The sheriff's office notified the DA.


Long story short: The owner of the account that received Weber's benefits was sentenced last week to 90 days in jail and restitution. (As we've pointed out before, spending a bank error in your favor can get you in big trouble.)


Why wasn't Bank of America on the hook for replacing Weber's money? The bank wouldn't explain that either.


Final outcome: Weber, a loyal BofA customer for more than 60 years, closed his accounts and took his business elsewhere.


More on MSN Money:


Jul 14, 2011 9:37PM
My wife had a BofA account for many years.  HAD being the operative word.  We were informed last year that they had no copy of her SS# and required her to re-apply, etc.   After 'hoop-jumping' for a few months I called the bank on their bs. In a nutshell, they were trying to justify hitting her acct. for all sorts of new fees.   End result:  NEVER again will we do business with the criminal organization that has taken over Bank of America.
Jul 15, 2011 12:40PM

Bank loses 30k customer's money and says "freak it, we can't do anything, sucks being you"


Bank issues 3 billion in bad home loans,  loses all of it and runs to fed crying "it wasn't our fault" ,gets money and forks out 1 billion in bonuses to the board of chairmen for doing such a great job "of saving the bank".


Think I'm going to open my own bank..............................

Jul 15, 2011 3:18PM

Here's a suggestion, stop doing business with the big banks.  I refuse to do business with Chase, BofA, or Wells Fargo.  Do I need an auto loan?  I'll use a regional bank.  The only way to send a message to these companies is to be a principled consumer and stop patronizing them.


I hate the way credit card companies operate, so I do not have any credit cards.  I was tired of Comcast, so I dropped my cable service.  Until the majority of us consumers quit taking it in the rear and vote with our wallets, the more these large companies will get away with their shennanigans.

Jul 15, 2011 1:24PM
This is why I DO NOT have an account with a bank.  I belong to a Credit Union.  They are non profit, fees are less, and you deal with people who treat you like a person.  I had my debit card number stolen and they ran up a bill of $500 before I caught it.  I told my Credit Union, they canceled and repalced my card with a new number, replaced my money out of their pockets and then they went after the thief.  A Bank would never do this.  But Credit Unions will!  Hence, if everyone started to switch over to Credit Unions, Banks would have to improve their act, or they would be about of business!  I'd love to see Bank of America go under, and then go away!
Jul 14, 2011 10:28PM
how do these jack a$$es stay in business?  Other than buying politicians?
Jul 15, 2011 2:40PM
Jul 15, 2011 1:17PM
Do your banking with a credit union.  They far outweigh the services, if any, a bank provides and normally do them without charge.  Someone needs to reel in the banks and make them accountable.
Jul 15, 2011 3:04PM
I'll say it again and again -this is how banks make their billions while they don't give a damn about you.  Stop patronizing these banks: don't get loans or credit cards or accounts with them.  Punish them for their attitude that they are too big to care about their customers.  Spread the word among your friends and colleagues.  STOP making them rich!!! 
Jul 15, 2011 2:22PM
So, just BOYCOTT BofA- they seem to be the worst bank for service, anyway...if nobody used their services they would just go away. Move your accounts out and bank elsewhere to show your disdain for legalized theft by BofA. 
Jul 15, 2011 1:46PM

Back in the 60's before BofA became a national bank, it was only in Ca. at that time, they screwed up 2 fellas accounts....their name started with Z and one lived in the LA area & the other in the Bay area. 

There was a story in the newspapers back then about the mix up...I resolved at an early age to NEVER bank with them!  They just keep proving my point!!!


In another instance, back about 15 yrs. ago, I managed a store.  We had direct deposit.  One of my employees banked at BofA, she kept bouncing checks & couldn't figure out why.  So, I asked her to bring in one of her bank statements & I would try to help her figure it out. 

Her checks were sent on Thurs. but they weren't posted to her account by BofA until the following Wed....NEARLY A WEEK LATER!  She changed banks!!!!


And these are just the ones I know of for sure!

Jul 15, 2011 12:49PM

I didn't even have to read this article to know it had something to do with Bank of America. 


Jan 20, 2012 8:54PM
So if a bank makes a mistake that is not in your favor, they do not have to fix it.
If they make a mistake that is in your favor, you run the risk of being thrown in jail for taking advantage of it.

Yeah, that's fair. They should pay for their mistakes just as we pay for ours.

Jul 15, 2011 1:58PM

Once again, BofA is the focus of another story of ABUSE & INCOMPETENCE...


There's a reason BofA was recently voted the #1 most hated company in America!!


These people DON'T DESERVE YOUR BUSINESS!!! Move your money to a member-owned credit union or local bank TODAY!

Jul 15, 2011 4:30PM
Wait a minute!!!!! The BofA said there was nothing that could be done about the mistake of issuing the same account number for two different people resulting in this retiree's Social Security checks going into another person's account?  I don't get it - NOTHING COULD BE DONE??  BofA should be held accountable - this is wrong on many different levels.  Pathetic!
Jul 15, 2011 2:19PM
A few years ago my sister stole my license and copied down the information from it. She had a fake DL made and had somebody withdrawal $6700 from my checking account. The person that came into the bank happen to be an african american woman...I am caucasian.  This person spelled my name wrong on the signature part of the withdrawal slip and the signature of course did not match. This was not even caught! The only good thing I can say about BofA is that they gave us our money back within a few days but not before acting like I was the one that withdrew the money! The bank that was used was over 2,000 miles from my home! IDIOTS!!!
Jul 15, 2011 1:40PM

2 years ago in south carolina bofam refused to lower their flag to half staff while a funeral for a fallen iraq solder passed by as a result that branch was preminantly closed and that branch manager was fired. me and 6000 other with drew our money from bank of was the best decision i made in 30 years of banking with them. they are blood suckers.

Jul 15, 2011 12:56PM
Bank = license to steal and be completely insulated from any criminal law.   I think the bank upper management should be charged with aiding and abetting theft and should be sitting in jail with the other account holder that spent the money.    Just another example of wealthly idiots not having to pay for their wrongs and the continuation of their arrogant attitudes that "they could not do anything about it"  What a crock of sh*t!!
Jul 15, 2011 1:15PM
I would NEVER and I mean NEVER do business with BofA!  You are a fool if you do.  Actually, I do not know who is worse - BofA or Merrill Lynch who is now part of BofA.  Why no one goes to jail for what these thieves do is beyond me.  Story after story is posted online and every time it involves B of A.  Why don't people just change or drop their business with these thieves?  Just because they haven't made a mistake or stolen money from you is just a matter of time.  Getting the District Attorney involved in this case is over the top - why wasn't someone in that organization at least fired?  There are more and more people sitting in banks who know absolutely nothing about finance or banking and yet they work for these banks.  Crazy - sheer craziness.
Jul 15, 2011 11:35AM
I closed my account with B of A for the same general reason: It's a surprisingly poor piece of work.
Jul 15, 2011 2:03PM
Bank of America's handling of this situation is beyond inexcusable; it should be criminal. Where would they be if every customer pulled his/her money out of savings, canceled all credit cards, etc? That's what I'm going to do.
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