Bank Fraud or Simple Mistake? : Legal Articles from Gamino Law Offices, LLC

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Bank Fraud or Simple Mistake?

by Gamino Law Offices on 05/02/14

- Attorney Tedia Gamino

 Georgia teen Steven Fields recently found himself in more than a little hot water for taking money that wasn’t his – but it wasn’t really the kind of theft you hear about every day. (Even some of the Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers at Gamiño Law Offices were a little surprised at what the teen did… and very little surprises us!)

Here’s the story: When a bank teller accidentally deposited $31,000 into the 18-year-old’s bank account, he noticed the error and started spending, powering his way through $26,000 in just 10 days. The money actually belonged to another Steven Fields, who didn’t notice the error for a week and a half. When the teen went to withdraw more money, a teller asked him to give it all back.

He couldn’t.

Fields has now been charged with theft by taking, which is a felony in Georgia, and he’s facing some serious prison time.

What Would You Do, and is it Bank Fraud?

If there was an extra $31,000 in your bank account, would you be quick to notify the bank? Would you figure that it’s a bit like Monopoly and when the bank errs in your favor, it really is in your favor?

The truth is, it’s not legal to spend money that isn’t yours – even if it’s in your bank account. If you know it’s not yours, you could be convicted of a crime in Wisconsin. Just because you haven’t physically held the money (Fields made some purchases with his debit card, according to police reports), that doesn’t mean it’s any different than taking a few dollars out of someone else’s wallet.

Sure, we’d all like to have tens of thousands of dollars fall out of the sky and into our laps. But unless it actually does fall out of the sky and into your lap (and you’ve checked to make sure it doesn’t belong to anyone), don’t run out and start the shopping spree of a lifetime. That money could end up costing you much more than a few bucks in interest.

Comments (1)

1. Angie said on 5/6/14 - 05:31AM
This makes me think of the show "What Would You Do?" Certainly having a bank error is no excuse, but I often wonder what most people would do if they found a bag of money in a parking lot, for example.


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