Too Good to be True

Windfall from a Bank Error

Engineering student Christine Lee became a millionaire by accident when the Australian bank Westpac accidentally credited her account with an unlimited overdraft. Between 2014 and 2015 she took out AU $4.6 million from this account, and spent most of it on designer handbags and other luxury goods because that’s apparently what young people do these days. 🙂

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Westpac claims it gave Christine the generous overdraft funds 4 years ago by mistake. Fraud cops began an investigation into the matter in 2012. But it wasn’t until March this year that an arrest warrant for her was issued. She was then arrested by the Australian federal police earlier this month. The prosecutor said Christine had failed to notify the bank that she was not entitled to the money. Welcome to the real world, Christine. 🙂 If you make a mistake and don’t pay your credit card bill on time, you will be harassed by the bank. But when they make a blunder such as reckless lending it’s still your fault. 😛

However, the magistrate Lisa Stapleton has reportedly agreed with Christine’s defense lawyer that the police would “struggle to prove the spending of the money was illegal.” She points out that Christine “didn’t take it from them. They gave it to her.” I would be inclined to agree with the magistrate. The police is charging Christine with “dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.” I don’t know much about Aussie law but this statute is concerning to me. Who exactly would Christine have deceived? Westpac practically gave her the money in the form of a glorified line of credit, lol. And how would it be a crime to buy handbags with overdraft money? Westpac also had 2 years to notice and correct the overdraft error before Christine used it. There are many bank sponsored credit cards that feature no spending limits so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a teenager would see an overdraft account and think the bank was just being extra accommodating. Westpac even claims it offers “a range of innovative financial packages to suit your needs.” Maybe some people feel they need a shopping spree. 😉

This is like a game of Monopoly. Christine thought she got lucky. 🙂

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But instead, all she got was trouble. 😛

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Was she in the wrong? Probably, especially if she didn’t intend to pay back all the money she borrowed. But does she deserve to be arrested and possibly be tarnished with a criminal record while she’s still in college? I’m not sure. 😕 In any case I think there are a couple important lessons we can take away from this story.

  • If you owe the bank $4.60 that’s your problem. But if you owe the bank $4.6 million, that’s the bank’s problem. And they will come after you with the fullest extent of the law. #beware.
  • Luxury handbags can be really expensive. As a thrifty consumer if I ever wanted a handbag I would just make my own, like this beauty here. ?

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Random Useless Fact:

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The German word for “children” is kinder.

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Money Beagle
05/26/2016 7:23 am

I once got downsized from a job and the company kept on paying me. I was smart about it. I didn’t spend a nickel of it and kept alerting them every pay period. They finally asked for it back and when they did, I was able to use the fact that I attempted to notify them over and over as leverage to keep a portion of it.

Anon
Anon
05/26/2016 10:22 am

That’s the difference between a bank corporation committing fraud and a bank customer committing fraud — one gets to keep the money and one gets arrested.

DivHut
05/27/2016 12:09 am
Reply to  Anon

Sad, but true.

ChrisCD
ChrisCD
05/27/2016 5:18 am

Yes, the bank made a mistake, but so did she. She should have realized it was an error and worked to get it corrected on her own. And she should have documented that effort. Then she might have a leg to stand on. Common sense on her part should have ruled the day (years). :O)

FerdiS
FerdiS
05/27/2016 7:40 am

This sounds a little bit like one of those Darwin award stories.

I can’t imagine what she was thinking… even if the bank made a “mistake” crediting her with an unlimited overdraft facility, she should have realized that she would have to pay back everything.

I can’t imagine what the bank was thinking… allowing her to continue charging exorbitant amounts without reigning in the overdraft facility reeks of stupidity, too.

I’d love to hear what the judgement on this case will be!

The Asian Pear
The Asian Pear
05/29/2016 3:22 pm

I know someone which the bank deposited several QUADRILLION dollars into his bank account. Of course, this was an error though. LOL. We all joked how he could bail out the US at that time. (It was around 2008/2009 at the time.)

Min Min
Min Min
05/29/2016 7:36 pm

I’ve always been a goody-two shoes growing up, so it wouldn’t even occur to me to milk that opportunity if it happened to me! I agree that a criminal record seems a bit unnecessary.

Also, your puns are awful!!! Having said that, I’m still inclined to share it 🙂

BeSmartRich
05/30/2016 5:44 am

One day my saving account showed about $2-3M when I was in school. I freaked out and decided to transfer the funds into other account to see what happens. Unfortunately, the transfer did not work 🙂 Hahaha

Tracy
05/30/2016 10:16 am

Haha poor girl. I wonder what anyone else would’ve done in her shoes. It’s hard to say no to free money, especially if no one contacted her about it!

Sabrina Diamond Proskow
Sabrina Diamond Proskow
04/21/2019 2:13 am

I just wonder how to borrows large inventories of things from people to sell online or in store like jewellery or things like wholesale items for cheap.
I want to open a furniture store with techie items or a music shop But I Live in such a poor neighbourhood that Theresa not really any credit.
Hard to find a boyfriend… not even a stylist could tell. :$