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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 100037
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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A friend of mine in S.C. liquidated a 401k account. When he

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A friend of mine in S.C. liquidated a 401k account. When he filled out the paperwork to transfer the money to his credit union savings account he accidentally was off by one digit and the money was put in another consumers account. That consumer took the money and is refusing to return it to the bank. The bank is saying that it is not their responsibility. Sounds crazy to me. Isn't the bank responsible to correct the error, credit my friends account and go after the other party who received the money in error?"
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your friend's situation. Can you please tell me how much money went into the other customer's account by accident?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
$15,000
Thank you for your reply.

Isn't the bank responsible to correct the error, credit my friends account and go after the other party who received the money in error?"

I am afraid that here, the onus is on the friend to go after the third party. The bank did not do anything wrong - they simply took the money and put it into the account of whichever he specified, which was (in this case) the third party - let us call him Bob.

The bank is not responsible since they had no way of knowing that the account was "off" by one point - they simply transferred the money into the account of the individual specified (Bob), but the money does not belong to Bob, and he knows it. To get it back, your friend can threaten to sue Bob for the money.

To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state. Every cause of action has its own elements, and each element has to be satisfied for a cause of action to be successful in court.

Here, this may be a case for money had and received, which is a cause of action when the money rightfully and fairly belongs to Plaintiff (in this case, your friend), but is being held for some reason by Defendant (in this case, Bob). The cause for money had and received is recognized in SC. Baker v. ALLEN ET AL., 66 SE 2d 618 - SC: Supreme Court 1951.

Often, this matter is handled by a demand letter from your friend to Bob, demanding that the money be returned or else suit will follow. It is best that an attorney write this letter as an attorney's letter holds more gravitas, but, if you'd like to see a sample of such a letter, let me know.

Often, the party in the wrong will agree to acquiesce to avoid litigation they know they would lose.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Is this a criminal matter?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The bank is also refusing to give the name of the party who received the money for privacy reasons. How does he go after an individual that the bank refuses to disclose?
Friend,

Thank you for your follow up.

Is this a criminal matter?

I am afraid not. This is not a criminal matter in the sense that he did not steal anything - he simply had it dropped on his lap. The police are unlikely to pursue this as a criminal matter, thus leaving relief for this in civil court, I am afraid.

The bank is also refusing to give the name of the party who received the money for privacy reasons. How does he go after an individual that the bank refuses to disclose?

This is easily done. If a suit has to be filed, then one can file a suit against "John Doe" and then subpoena the bank for the name once the suit has been filed. Once the subpoena is returned with the name, the suit may be amended to reflect Bob's real name, and commenced.

An attorney is recommended. May I recommend the SC Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

Again, the bank itself is not liable unless it made some kind of mistake in its depositing - so far, it seems they only did what was asked, so the error lies not with them, but with the Bob person who is refusing to give back the money.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

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