Did You Know You Could Be Jailed For Not Returning Money Paid Into Your Account In Error?

While many people harbour some wishful thoughts of hitting a good fortune where someone will erroneously send money into their accounts and they’ll use it to live large, reality has a different outlook as such action can get you prosecuted for theft. If convicted, of converting money sent to you in error to personal use, you can spend up to two years in jail and still made to refund the money.

Orhena Bartholomew from Makurdi who believed his stars had finally decided to shine on him learned this the hard way. His troubles began when he approached a Firstmonie agent and gave him N1,000 to send to his friend in Lagos. The agent mistakenly transferred N100,000 to the receiver’s account and Bartholomew who was made aware of the error by his friend decided to collect the balance for himself.

After many attempts to get him to refund the money which he had already used to purchase a Honda motorcycle proved abortive, he was arrested and charged to court by the Makurdi Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for converting the money.

He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to two years in prison with option of N50,000 fine. He was made to pay back the money in restitution to the Firstmonie agent while the Honda motorcycle he bought earlier with the converted money was forfeited to the federal government.

According to CBN guidelines, when money is mistakenly transferred into a wrong account, the customer who made the mistake is required to report the issue to their bank. The transacting bank is expected to inform the receiving bank to revert the money.

The receiving bank can quickly return the money, sometimes without informing the receiver. If there’s not enough money in the account owing to the fact that the receiver may have withdrawn the money, the account holder who received the transfer in error will be contacted to refund the money.  In the event that the receiver has been notified of the error and they refuse to refund the money, their account will be blacklisted and their BVN will be passed on to law enforcement agencies (EFCC in most cases) for a possible prosecution.

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