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Bank error in your favor: $9.8 billion

Yes, that headline says 'billion.' But that amount didn't stop the account holder from doing the right thing.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2012 5:49PM

If there were an award for most honest person in the world, Parijat Saha would be a great candidate. The schoolteacher in India saw online that $9.8 billion -- or, rather, 496 billion rupees -- had been deposited into his account and called the bank to report the mistake.

 

The BBC reports:

Mr. Saha's monthly salary as a school teacher in the eastern state of West Bengal is 35,000 rupees ($700; £450).
But his account balance of $9.8 billion is closer to India's annual education budget of $11.5 billion.

Officials at the State Bank of India -- its motto is "Safe banking with SBI," the BBC notes -- won't explain how such an astronomical sum appeared in Saha's account. "Red-faced bank officials would not comment, but sources say the funds were 'uncleared' and he could not have withdrawn the money if he had tried," the BBC said.

 

Bruce Watson observed at DailyFinance that much smaller bank errors -- even those in six figures -- have motivated other less-honest folks to take the money and run. That often ends badly -- with a trip to prison. Post continues below.

Sorry, but you are not entitled to money that is erroneously deposited in your account.

 

What would you do if this happened to you? At a CBC News online poll, 47.1% said they'd alert the bank immediately, and 19.21% said they'd wait for the bank to fix the mistake but wouldn't try to spend the money. But 20.23% picked "spend as much of the money as I possibly could." Were those folks being serious? Who knows?

 

But these bank errors seem to happen more often than you'd think.

 

One CBC reader, "Clateam61," told a story of how years ago Clateam61 tried to withdraw $20 at an ATM, but it produced $40 instead. The receipt showed only $20. Clateam61 told the bank, which rewarded Clateam61 with the extra 20 bucks. The timely report of trouble probably saved the bank a bundle.

 

"It made me feel good, but I was grateful for the opportunity to model honesty to my three children. They are all adults now and are extremely honest people," Clateam61 said.

 

Sometimes honesty is its own reward. CBC reader "LurkNoMore" found about $3,500 in a rarely used account, about a month after the bank has erroneously put it there, then had to argue with the teller to get the bank to take the money out. "Imagine my surprise when I saw that the 'deposit' and the subsequent 'withdrawal' garnered me extra bank fees!" LurkNoMore said.

 

LurkNoMore called the bank, was put on hold for the longest time and finally got the bank to drop the fees. But is it any wonder that big banks are so unpopular?

 

What's your bank error story?

 

More on MSN Money:

88Comments
Jan 22, 2012 2:42AM
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Remember the old ATM's where the door flipped open and your cash would be laying there for you to grab?  It was a Sunday night late and I had to get some cash, pulled into my bank and used the ATM, I could here the money dropping as it always did.  The door opened and I took out my $60.  When the door shut back, I could hear the same sound, only this time it didn't stop for a long long time.  Out of curiosity I put my card back in and withdrew another $20.  The door opened and there was so much cash in there I could barely get the money out, $5,720 to be exact.  I was 17 at the time, I took the money home told my parents what happened, my dad put the money in an envelope and the next morning we were headed to the bank to return it.  We walked in told the teller what happened she got the manager who very quickly told us she was inclined to call the police and report us for not simply putting the money in the night deposit box.  No thank you, no nothing, just threats.  The teller forgot one thing, to check my dad's account balance before treating us like that.  My father was the vice president at little company called General Motors.  He closed all of his accounts that day.
Jan 21, 2012 12:33PM
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I would immediately charge the bank a $10.00 fee for "unauthorized deposits" and then alert the bank to the error.  Afterwards I'd send a statement to the bank showing the $10.00 charge.  If they called to ask abou the fee, I'd ask them to:  Dial 1 for a long hold; Dial 2 to speak in Spanish; Dial 3 to accept the fee; Dial 4 . . .
Jan 21, 2012 10:47AM
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A couple of years ago, when I was homeless, I went to the bathroom at the city bus station and found a wallet with SEVERAL $100 bills in it...I thought someone needed this money for SOMETHING (who carries THAT much cash around??) so I turned it in to the lady at the lobby window...

I sat down to wait for my bus, and a minute later a man approached the window and talked to the lady. She pointed towards me, and the man walked up to me and explained to me that he was renting a new apartment and the money was for his deposit. Then he said it looks like YOU could use a little money too, and handed me $100!!

Jan 21, 2012 1:40PM
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After have an account with the bank for 23 years with not one overdraft or problem of any kind i purchased a home. Wanting to keep the payment as low as possible I paid a substantial portion of the purchase in cash running my balance down to nothing and deposited my paycheck the same day. I was notified that I was being charged an overdraft fee  for being $.23 overdrawn. Later determined to be their error. I went to the bank and pleaded my case to which they said "there is nothing we can do". So, my answer was " close the account now and put the money in my hand. Your competitor is right next door and I won't even have to move my car from your lot!!" They said "let's talk". My answer "We just did and I didn't like your reply"!!! I had to get a little loud so that other customers were starting to take notice till they closed the account to shut me up! They got their lousy $20 and their competitor has been treating me very well since!!! 
Jan 20, 2012 8:46PM
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Last year I found a deposit of $8,600 to my account that I did not make.  I called Bank of America and told them this was not my money, and asked that it be checked out.  The same day two withdrawals were made of for a total of $600 at an ATM 200 miles away, at the same bank the deposit was done.  I saw this on-line and called the bank again to alert them that there was something wrong.  The phone rep told me to go to the Branch and close the account as someone had probably stolen my identity.   The bank officer closed the acct and openned a new one, when I checked the deposit ticket for the new account it showed the $8,000 balance transferred to my new account.  I pointed this out to the teller and he proceeded to make a withdrawal from the new account and put it back on the old account.  Three days later BOA froze my new account and reported my social security with a code indicating it belonged to a "Money Launderer"   I was unable to access my own money during the entire month of December!  It took six weeks for BOA to clear my name. Needless to say I no longer bank with BOA!
Jan 20, 2012 7:12PM
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I had lost my job and was down to my last $85.00 and wrote a few checks for small items maybe  $50,00 worth and Wells Fargo bounced them because they said there was no money in the account. I had to borrow money to pay the places that I wrote the checks to plus $20.00 on each one for bounced check fees. I closed the account and six months later I get a notice from Wells Fargo that there was $85.00 in my closed account that I need to withdraw.They never did pay me the money that I lost.
Jan 20, 2012 7:01PM
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That kind of error will never happen to a poor person. President Obama should have given every American a share of the bank bail-out. That would have stimulated the economy like nothing else would. Thats what i think.Smile
Jan 22, 2012 9:33AM
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If my bank mistakenly deposited a billion dollars in my account, I would arrange a transfer to another bank with an interest bearing account.  When contacted by the bank which had made the error, I'd tell them that I'm only doing with their money what they do with my money and return it, keeping the interest.

Jan 21, 2012 4:12PM
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I had $247.00 deposited in my account at WF a number of years back. I contacted the bank twice over a two month period letting them know their mistake. They seemed uninterested. I did not touch the money for a year then I closed the account and kept the money. They did not care so I did not either.
Jan 20, 2012 7:43PM
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In the game of Monopoly a "Chance" card states, "Bank error in your favor, collect $200."  I've never seen the day when that was ever true. 

 

I hope this person received just 1/1000 of 1 percent of ANYTHING for helping the bank correct its mistake.  The money was never his but he helped the bank locate over 9 BILLION dollars...at least pay the man the dollar figure of what an accountant would have received for working 30 seconds to rebalance the books!

Jan 21, 2012 1:07PM
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I would return the money.  You are nothing without personal integrity.  What's that old saying, "character is what you do when no one's looking"

Jan 21, 2012 8:24AM
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I think I side with those that say they'd leave it there to see how long it took the bank to find it's own error. That's the answer we all realy want anyway isn't it? When they loose our money there seems to be no rush at all, so how hard will it look for it's own?
Jan 21, 2012 4:45AM
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Many years ago I was sitting in one of three drive-up banking lanes (the middle one) waiting for the whoosh of the air tube to bring me my money from a check I had just cashed and when it arrived I had barely opened it to see several hundred in cash when whoosh, here comes another one, mine actually.

 

I instictively realized that the first carrier that came down the tube belonged to the guy next to me on my right, the guy in the Gremlin with at least 3, maybe 4 kids and the wife, all of them waiting for the money from Dad's paycheck (it was Friday) so they could hit the local Steak & Shake.

 

I could have removed my money from my carrier, returned it to the tube and drove off, the thought never crossed my mind, not until much later, just for a minute, I just closed up the carrier and sent it back to the teller and said I'm okay, thanks anyhow, dropped my carrier back in and drove off.

 

Those folks probably never realized what happened or what could have happened but that's okay too.

 

Even though I'd handle the situation exactly the same today as I did back then, but there is no such thing as Karma, good bad or otherwise, what goes around does not necessarily come around but I guess what matters is how you feel about yourself and about those around us.

 

If the Bank ever screws up and puts some of its money within my reach i can't say the result would be the same.......

 

Goodnite all..

Jan 20, 2012 7:43PM
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The people who allege they would simply start spending are foolish. When the banks make a mistake in their favor, they fight tooth and nail before making it right. If they make a mistake in your favor, rest assured they will let loose the hounds of hell to get their money back.
Jan 21, 2012 1:52AM
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One time I found a 10 dollar bill on the ground. I kept it. I felt absolutely no remorse. That is all.
Jan 20, 2012 9:05PM
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Re: The Bank of America overdraft case.

 

I never got one penny from the case, over the 10 years I was a customer they charged me over $3000 for overdrafts. On top of that they screwed up my credit rating.

 

I am no longer a customer at B of A.

Jan 23, 2012 3:56AM
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I used to go to Regions bank near my work on payday and cash my paycheck. My employer had an account there and they were not supposed to charge us the $5.00 check cashing fee for cashing our checks there but one of the drive thru cashiers always tried to charge me the fee. I complained about it about 6 times to the manager, and each time the fee was refunded... but after the fourth time he wrote her up for it. One day I drove thru the window and when she handed me my money, I went to count it and 2 of the hundreds each had 2 extra hundreds stuck to them, and a third had 3, for a total of $700 extra (they were brand new bills). When I pressed the speaker button she yelled "What now!?", so I said "I think you've made a mistake on my money." to which she replied nastily "I don't make no mistakes...", to which I said "Yes ma'am, sorry to have bothered you..." and drove away.
The next week I went thru the drive thru and she wasn't there. I asked the girl where she was and the girl said that she had been fired last week after she came up $700 short and couldn't account for it. to which I replied 'That's such a shame..."

Jan 21, 2012 3:57AM
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I am not saying that this guy should have gotten anywhere near the amount of the accidental deposit. However I do agree with several others, he should be given a rather sizable reward by the bank just for being so honest and saving the bank more than the deposit, but also the subsiquent investigation costs etc, and a world of bad press. (I do think word getting out that the bank making such mistakes without prompt correction would most likely affect their credit in a very bad way. Who wants to back a bank that does that?)

 

The last story told of the reader who tried to be honest about a $3.5K mistake, and being charged fees to fix said bank error, when it was never his fault in the first place??? I certainly hope he reported that bank to the authorities, and even with all the extra work, pursued the matter until the fees were taken care of. Also I really hope they contacted their local news and let others know not to bank there.

Jan 21, 2012 3:19AM
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guy should be rewarded! no doubt saved the bank a ton of time and investigating!
Jan 22, 2012 6:40PM
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Banks make me sick...They are the biggest crooks in the business world. I once went to a  Bank America at the drive-thru ATM machine. When it was my turn I pulled up to the ATM and the older gentleman ahead of me left his card in the machine and the ATM was asking did I want another transaction. I could have took out several hundred dollars with no problem but instead I canceled the transaction, completed my transaction and took the man's ATM card into the bank. I handed the card to the teller and told her exactly what happened. She looked at me like I was some kind of thief and did not say  thank you, kiss my butt or anything else. I told her she was welcome and left. I should have known better than to do anything at a B of A and next time I will keep the card and mail it to the owner.
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