File picture: Reuters/Lee Jae-Won
File picture: Reuters/Lee Jae-Won

Couple face charges after splurging R1.5m accidentally deposited into account

By Kayla Epstein Time of article published Sep 9, 2019

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Pennsylvania - Imagine waking up one day to find an extra $120 000 (R1.8 million) in your bank account. You did not make $120 000 or win $120 000, but there it is, $120 000, just sitting there. Cool!

What would you do with all that cash? Pay off the mountain of student loans you'd otherwise be stuck with till you die? Buy a house? Buy a car?

Maybe you should call the bank and find out what's going on?

Yeah. Yeah, you definitely should call the bank.

Robert and Tiffany Williams of Montoursville, Pennsylvania, did not call the bank, police say.

When a non-hypothetical $120 000 intended for a business was accidentally transferred into their BB&T bank account because of a teller error, the couple splurged on a camper, a Chevy and a racecar, state trooper Aaron Brown told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Authorities say they also distributed $15 000 (R228 000) to friends who needed the money.

All told, they spent $100 000 (R1.5 million) in about 2 1/2 weeks, WNEP reported.

Eventually, though, the bank contacted them on or around June 20 after sending the money to the correct account. The bank notified Tiffany Williams, 35, that they were responsible for returning all the funds, Brown told the Sun-Gazette. He added that the withdrawal resulted in a $107 416 (R1.6 million) overdraft because the couple's bank account had only $1,121 (R17 000) in it before the accidental windfall.

BB&T Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tiffany first assured the bank she would work out a repayment plan with her husband, but she eventually ceased communications, WNEP reported.

"That is kind of shocking, with all the procedures the banks have set up, checking and double-checking and triple-checking, there's no way anybody gets away with that stuff," Nate Weaver, a neighbour of the Williamses, told WNEP.

The Sun-Gazette reported that the couple, in separate interrogations, told police that they "admitted to knowing the mislaid money did not belong to them, but they spent it anyway."

The Williamses could not be reached immediately, and it was unclear whether they had retained legal counsel.

The couple now face three felony charges of theft and receiving stolen property, court records show. They appeared in court last week and posted bail of $25 000 each. The Pennsylvania State Police could not immediately comment on the case to The Washington Post.

The Washington Post

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