Bank clerk accidentally gives pensioner £190m

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ATM

A German bank clerk fell asleep at his desk, while his finger was pressed on the number 2 on his keyboard. As a result, he accidentally credited one pensioner's account with 222,222,222.22 euros (or roughly £190 million).

So how could this happen, and what are your rights if the bank makes an error in your favour?


Sleepy

The bizarre transaction emerged during an employment tribunal in Germany, when the employee's supervisor was appealing against the bank's decision to fire her for failing to spot the mistake.

According to The Telegraph, the supervisor checked the documents related to the transaction and admitted she should have spotted the error, but said in her defence that she had checked 800 documents that day.

According to the BBC, the tribunal decided that she ought to have received a warning rather than being sacked, because there was no malicious intent involved and that she should be reinstated.

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Your rights

In this instance, the mistake was noticed by another colleague before impacting the pensioner's bank account. However, it begs the question of what would have happened if the pensioner in question suddenly found themselves £190m richer, and what your rights are in this sort of situation.

In the Monopoly game a 'bank error in your favour' is taken as a reason to help yourself to a few notes. However, under UK law it's not that simple. Not only do you have no right to keep the money, you have a duty to inform the bank and ask them to put it right.

If you keep quiet you can be accused of 'retaining wrongful credit'. There have been instances of individuals spending the money and paying a hefty price. There was one woman in Blackburn who spent an accidental £135,000 credit, and was jailed for 10 months in 2007.

There have been some instances where the individual was able to prove to a court that they didn't realise the payment was an error, but these cases are very few and far between, and unless you could show you realistically expected this sort of money in your account, you're on very dodgy ground.

So if you suddenly wake up one morning to find yourself 222 million euros better off, phone the bank, and sit on your hands to help you resist temptation until they take the cash back.

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