A mistake by a Georgia bank teller turned into a jackpot for a local teen there — or so he thought. But in a story that will be at the same time satisfying and infuriating for anyone who has ever tried to deal with a ban after you make a mistake, this Hull teenager found that while a bank is rarely forgiving of its customer’s mistakes, it demands that you, the customer, forgive a mistake by the bank — or else!
In fact, banks count on their customers making mistakes. The banks make huge profits from consumer slip-ups. Recent studies have found that checking account customers pay $225 per year on average in overdraft fees, and that banks make an amazing 61 percent of their profits from consumer checking accounts by forcing customers to pay for mistakes.
But when the bank makes a mistake — well, here’s what happened, according to an account in The Athens Banner-Herald.
The affair began on March 7 when a customer at First Citizens Bank in the tiny, rural hamlet of Hull, walked in with deposit. This wasn’t just any deposit. The customer handed the teller $31,000.
But that’s not the problem. People make $31,000 deposits at bank teller windows every day, right? The trouble began when the bank teller promptly credited the 31 large — to the wrong bank account.
The excuse for the mistake was that there are several people with the same name at the bank, which sounds slightly dubious given that Hull has a population of fewer than 200 people. And besides, doesn’t a bank need an actual account number, not just a name, to process a deposit — especially one the size that this apparently affluent individual was making?
Anyway, the $31K ended up in the bank account of an 18-year-old Hull youth who — he later claimed — thought it was an inheritance payout from his grandmother. And what do you do when a beloved grandparent bequeaths you a generous nest egg for your college fund, or your future security. What else? You spend it as fast as possible.
The young man promptly withdrew $20,000 of the “inheritance” from his account and ran up another five grand using his ATM debit card.
This spending spree took place over a span of time shorter than 10 days. We know that because it wasn’t until March 17 that the original depositor noticed that the 31 grand was missing from his account. At least he waited that long to call and ask the bank about the mistake.
The bank that investigated and figured out the mistake — and demanded that the 18-year-old give the money back. Which he could not do, for obvious reasons. He pleaded innocence as well, using the “grandma’s inheritance” story.
The bank was very clear. “No” was not an optional response.
The young man then offered to come into the bank and work out a repayment arrangement. The bank agreed, but the kid at last report had not shown his face.
Now the bank is moving to prosecute him for doing exactly what a bank does all the time, profiting from someone else’s mistake.