Bank deposits $1m in your account—can you keep it? Depends who you are

When a Louisiana dispatcher discovered an unexpected $1.2 million in her bank account, she didn’t waste much time asking questions. In fact, she didn’t ask questions at all.

Kelyn Spadoni, 33, was supposed to receive a deposit of $82 from Charles Schwab & Co.banking. But a gigantic error reflected a much greater sum.

According to authorities, Spadoni transferred her new fortune into a secret account. Not long after, she reportedly purchased a home and a 2021 Hyundai Genesis sports car. Court documents locate Spadoni’s splurges somewhere between $48,000 and $70,000.

On Wednesday, law enforcement stopped the shopping spree; they booked Spadoni on charges of theft valued at over $25,000, bank fraud, and illegal transmission of monetary funds.

Representatives over at Charles Schwabthe company that has since sued Spadoni in federal court—said that they made several attempts to reach her via calls, texts, and emails. As of the time of this writing, 75% of the missing funds have been recovered, and Spadoni has been fired from her position at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s not her money,” sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Jason Rivarde commented in a media release. “She has no legal claim to that money,” he said. “Even if it was put in there by mistake. It was an accounting error… If someone accidentally puts an extra zero on a utility payment, they would want that money returned or credited to them. This is no different.”

But hedge-funders get to keep their bank-error windfall

A similar story played out last year when Citigroup Inc. mistakenly paid nearly $900 million to Revlon Inc. lenders, when it intended to send only a $7.8 million interest payment.

Citibank, like Charles and Schwab, suffered a massive loss due to a clerical error. Only the folks over at Citibank didn’t lose their jobs or get sued.

On August 11th, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, officially decreed that the transfers were “final and complete transactions, not subject to revocation.”

“The non-returning lenders believed, and were justified in believing, that the payments were intentional,” Furman wrote in a court document. “To believe otherwise — to believe that Citibank, one of the most sophisticated financial institutions in the world, had made a mistake that had never happened before, to the tune of nearly $1 billion — would have been borderline irrational.”

Revlon got to keep the cash because the court decreed that no reputable establishment would make an error as large as Citibank did, therefore the earners of said error are not accountable for returning the funds. It’s a finders-keepers rule, but only if you work at a hedge fund.

Clearly, Spadoni’s case could just as easily have been resolved with the same reasoning — which would have led to very different legal and professional outcomes.

Citibank isn’t budging. “We believe we are entitled to the funds and will continue to pursue a complete recovery of them,” the bank said in a statement.

Would you try to hold on to the money if you thought you could get away with it? Let us know in the comments.