QoD: If a bank mistakenly deposits $100,000 into your bank account, is it now YOUR money?

Sep 10, 2019
Question of the Day, Checking Accounts

Hat tip to Brian Page and Lana Main for sharing this story! 

Answer: Nope.

Here's a two minute video explaining what happened to a couple in Pennsylvania who "had a bank error in their favor:" 


  • Does this seem fair to you? Why or why not?
  • The couple in this story used the $100,000 to go on a shopping spree. Imagine you suddenly received $100,000 (legitimately and not through a bank error), how would you spend it? 

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom. 

Behind the numbers: 

WNEP reports Robert and Tiffany Williams' bank deposited $120,000 into their account on accident. It was a mistake made back in May by a teller, the news agency reports.

The couple did not contact the bank about the mistake but allegedly spent most of the money in two and a half weeks in June. Authorities say the couple bought a car trailer, a camper, two four-wheelers and an SUV. They also used some of the money on bills, cash purchases and gave $15,000 to friends in need. After realizing the mistake, the bank transferred the money to the correct account. The bank told the Williams they had to pay back $107,000 in overdraft fees...They are facing theft charges and were released on bail.

Editor's note: I had a similar situation happen to me when I was 8. My $7.00 deposit at United Jersey Bank was entered as $700 by the bank teller. When I checked my savings account passbook that night and discovered the error, my Dad (a banker himself) left no doubt what I would do next.  I would return to the bank when it opened the next morning to let them know. You can only imagine the look on the teller's face when I told her about this error. It was both a sense of relief (i'm sure they left the previous evening wondering why they couldn't balance their accounts) and embarrassment at having an 8 year old point out this error. I seem to recall getting a lollipop for my honesty:)


About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.