Oh my. That’s not right. It’s nice to see but its $100,000 more than I should have.
I was standing in front of the ATM machine having just withdrawn some cash and was staring at the receipt.. I immediately thought I should go into the bank and question it when another thought came.
Hold on now. It might be ok. Wait until I am home and check the computer. Might be another windfall I hadn’t expected. Remembering back 10 years ago when I had found I was entitled to a pension from my husband’s work. Came completely out of the blue, but very welcome.
On my way home, I took the 20 minute walk to think about the funds. If this was legit, how would I spend it?. A trip and one where I would invite my close friend to join me, all expenses paid. We both had expressed a desire to visit Newfoundland and Labrador. Embrace the wonderful scenery, the fiords and thoroughly explore all the Viking history. As neither of us wanted to drive, the best way was an escorted tour. I had researched this before and knew there was a 14 day one available. A small group of about 10 people in an luxury coach, staying at the best hotels along the way and doing various side trips like whale watching, iceberg alley and enjoying an evening with the locals with all their music and dancing. That trip would account for around $20,000 and I could book it now and pay for it upfront and also take out insurance cancellation just to be on the safe side.
Lovely, I thought. But hold on a bit. What if this windfall was an error. If I spent it and then they wanted it back. The insurance cancellation was good but only for so many days before the trip. I would then be in debt. Or could they? All very well expecting to get the funds back, but if it’s all gone, you can’t get blood out of a stone. So maybe I should spend it as fast as I could. Good point, so how else will I dispose of $100,000 fast?
What about investment? Nice idea, but that takes time to get a good return. Maybe buy a car. Normally a new car is not a good investment as the minute it is driven off the parking lot, it depreciates fast. I had quite the opposite experience six months ago. .
My car was coming off a 5 year lease and I did the buy back. Six months later I moved into a condo in town and having a car was such an expense. Especially parking. Then there was gas which had risen so much recently, plus insurance, maintenance and such like and public transport around me was so readily available. I had seen there was a demand for second hand cars and was amazed when I was offered $15,000.. Doing the maths I had actually paid $21,000 in total with lease payments and buy out, so in 5 years, it had only cost me $6,000 plus running costs. .
Not bad I thought. So could I do that again? Although I had managed without my car, I had to admit I really missed it. The little trips done on a whim, popping down to see my friend who lived 2 hours away. Or exploring other areas around the town which were not always accessible by public transport or if they were, it took such a long time. So that would account for another $35,000 .if I bought a new car and outright. That wasn’t such a bad idea because if the funds were in error and had to pay back, I could always take out a new lease and pay back the funds and hopefully do the same as before. So now I have disposed of $55,000. Had to do something else with the $45,000.
By this time I had arrived home and went immediately to the computer to research the funds, who they were from and if I was entitled. Not that easy without alerting the bank which I didn’t want to do at this stage. As today was a Friday, no more transactions would go through on my account until the following Monday. So I had the whole weekend to decide my next step. Another thought popped up.
Is the Bank allowed to withdraw funds from my account without my permission? I had put an alert on a daily withdrawal of $2,000 to stop any nasty people helping themselves. The Bank certainly could deposit funds as I was the recipient and they wouldn’t be concerned where it came from. If this was in error, they would only know if the sender put in a search and that would only be the result of the true recipient not receiving the funds. So how much time would all this take? Could be days, even weeks. Certainly enough time for me to dispose of the $45,000. What else could I do or what else did I need? Ah, charity.
It’s all very well having funds, legit or not, but there are other people not so fortunate. Animals too. One of my favourite charities was for guide dogs. Not just for the blind and deaf, but also for therapeutic dogs in hospitals. Donating to this not only finds a good home for a dog, but also gave a new lease on life for people with disabilities.
This is excellent. I doubt anyone would be that mean to want a return if I had donated with funds not my own. I would appeal to their good side and hopefully shame them into assuring the donation would stay. All good. That accounts for at least $3,000. Now to select maybe 4 more charities and give the same amount. Doing well.
Now down to $30,000. What do I really need. Until now, I hadn’t thought how hard it was to spend money. I had seen so many ads with the latest lottery up to the millions and I’m sure like a lot of people thought how wonderful it would be to have. Now here I was not sure how to spend just $100,000. Of course I was also considering the possibility of having to pay it back if it wasn’t really mine. That did put a restriction of freedom of spending. So far I had come up with ideas which also enabled me to repay the funds if necessary without putting a damper on myself.
What about my kids and grandkids?. They were all in a good position. Not that a bit of extra cash wouldn’t go amiss. I had already put funds aside for the grandkids in a trust fund they would have on my demise. Also had transferred funds to my kids to cover my cremation and the trip to the UK to scatter my ashes. Everything was in order. Just what do I personally need? My apartment was well furnished and my building offered a lot of amenities. Going on trips is wonderful and I would really enjoy the Newfoundland one, but traveling and negotiating international airports is not something I really wanted to do anymore. Been there, done that. Now it was time to make sure I was well cared for and enjoy my senior life. With that in mind, I turned my thoughts to the remaining $30,000. How could I park the funds so they could be spent and couldn’t be grabbed back. Would be good to have $30,000 to access as the spirit moved. To go on day trips, enjoy shows in New York, visit friends on the west coast and generally have the freedom to enjoy what was available. I really needed to put it somewhere safe. Then I decided on a plan which could take a bit of time.
I would take out cash every few days. Not the same amount. Didn’t want to show a pattern. I would keep the cash in a safe place in my apartment and would use the cash to pay for groceries, clothing, auto expenses such as gas, service, maintenance, concert tickets, and other personal requirements. By doing that, my bank balance would increase and those funds would be legitimately mine. So not to attract attention, I would put some expenses through the bank. Taking the funds out would take quite some time and over several weeks. I was banking on the true sender and recipient not discovering their error for some time. Something that I had experienced once before when I was working for an architect many years ago.
I had been engaged as the bookkeeper for a medium sized Architect’s office. A good solid firm and it was a delight to work with such creative people. Normally I only did a 3 day week which was sufficient to keep the books in up to date order. The specific week when an error appeared on the bank balance was when I had been asked to draw up a budget for a new project which required an extra day’s work. I had just finished the project and still had a bit of time to spare so decided to just do a cursory glance at the bank balance instead of waiting until the following week. Immediately I could see there was an extra $50,000 deposit and from a company we did not have dealings. I knew there was an error and could easily see why. The name of the Architect I worked for was Richardson Design. There was another Architect cum Artists Gallery in town called Richards Art and Design. This was a much bigger firm than ours and had quite a staff. This was to whom the cheque had been issued so clearly just a slip up. $50,000 slip up and not to be taken lightly. I didn’t have the authority to question this or to contact anyone until it was confirmed that this was in fact an error. Everyone had left for the weekend, so I put a note with a photocopy of the transaction on Mr. Richards’ desk.
When I arrived at work the following Monday, I was immediately summoned to Mr. Richards’ office. It was of course to discuss the $50,000. The head accountant was also there and he did confirm that they were not expecting any funds from this particular sender. After going through the bank balance and showing him how I had retrieved the information as to the sender and recipient, it was agreed it was just a bank slip up. That’s when I caught a bit of a gleam in Mr. Richards’ eye. When he asked if I had contacted anyone and I assured him I had not, the gleam became a beam.
“Let’s wait a bit and see how long it takes them to find out they’re missing funds.”
Both he and the accountant chuckled. I knew there was a bit of a jealousy between the two firms and we were regarded as the poor relations. Normally I would not have questioned either of them, but I thought they hadn’t really thought this through,
“What happens Mr. Richards if they discover it before we tell them.? We might look as though we are slow off the mark don’t you think?”
Definitely a good point and at that they both agreed that although action should be taken straight away, they decided to give them 24 hours. They wouldn’t be caught out for any delay as they could plead that I was only part time. Apparently, Mr. Richards was the one to call 24 hours later and politely ask the other Mr. Richards if he was missing a bit of cash, like around $50,000. By all accounts, there was more than a bit of a flurry around and questions why this had not been noticed immediately. Especially as they were expecting the funds the week before. The bank were hauled over the coals as well as it was their error in posting. We came out like true heroes and I was sent a bouquet of flowers from the competition with a simple note
“Thank you for your diligence. Good people hard to find”
Was that a way of offering me a job? Maybe but I didn’t bite.
Taking out $30,000 in cash would take a lot of time and I realized I would be in a lot of stress until it was all accounted for. Plus all the time expecting to hear that the gig was up. Did I really need any stress at my time of life? Definitely not, but what other way was there to deal with $30,000. I cast my thoughts back to tv shows I had seen about money laundering. I’d never truly followed the total scheme and anyways that the film industry. They don’t necessarily have to be that accurate. Deciding it was best to leave things as they were and not spend any money or dispose of any funds for a few days. See what happens on Monday..
As soon as the bank was open, I checked my bank balance. Still the same. Checked my messages and nothing from the Bank or from anyone I didn’t recognize. Several coffees later, I had come to a decision. I just wasn’t prepared to go through all the plans I had thought of to park or spend funds not truly mine. Guess I don’t have a criminal mind after all. Without trying to dissuade myself, I picked up the phone and called the Bank.
Oh my God. No wonder people question people in authority. After all the details had been taken down, repeated and fully explained a couple of times, checking with superiors, and being put on hold innumerous times, I was finally told they would place a hold on the funds pending investigation. They either didn’t know or would not tell me who the funds were from.
It was nearly 4 weeks later that I heard back to say the funds had indeed been placed in my account in error. No other details were given despite the numerous questions I had. In a way I was relieved although I did have fun thinking about how to spend the money. It also showed me my priorities which did surprise me.
The next surprise I had was a letter with a $10,000 cheque. It was from the sender. Had someone other than myself received the funds and disposed of them straight away like I had imagined I could do, not necessary the same way, those would have been lost and both the sender and the bank would have been responsible for issuing duplicate funds. In recognition of my honesty, they were issuing me a 10% finders fee. Now there’s a thought.
Why not offer my services in tracking down missing funds