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Accidental movement of large sums of money to the wrong people.
May 21, 2009 12:08 AM   Subscribe

Couple flee after bank mistakenly gives them 10m $
posted by johannahdeschanel (112 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The amount had been “mistakenly advanced” but that some of the money had since been recovered.

...thanks to $4.2M in ATM fees.
posted by rokusan at 12:18 AM on May 21, 2009 [21 favorites]


[OBVIOUS]
posted by Venadium at 12:19 AM on May 21, 2009


So they were two young lovers with nothing better to do than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube?
posted by sourwookie at 12:36 AM on May 21, 2009 [20 favorites]


I can't say I wouldn't do the same....
posted by noriyori at 12:47 AM on May 21, 2009


Farkariffic!
posted by LarryC at 12:53 AM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder about the logistics of doing this. How do you get the money out, and what do you do with it, such that the bank can't track it down again? I'd be tempted to run for $10m, but would have no idea how. I suppose you'd need to do a full identity change and abandon anything you had before.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:54 AM on May 21, 2009


posted by sourwookie So they were two young lovers with nothing better to do than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube?

I doubt they'll get far. Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas, and you know, he knows just exactly what the facts is. He ain't gonna let those two escape justice. He makes his living off of the people's taxes.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:59 AM on May 21, 2009 [11 favorites]


I suppose you'd need to do a full identity change and abandon anything you had before.

It's $10m. I'd do that for $10m, if I were them.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:08 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder about the logistics of doing this.

Yeah, me too. It'll be interesting to see if they, well... don't get caught. If they don't get caught, they're pretty damn smart.

Wonder how much of their windfall they've been able to turn into cash? Wonder if the bulk of it is already in a Swiss bank account?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:11 AM on May 21, 2009


I suppose you'd need to do a full identity change and abandon anything you had before

It's $10m. I'd do that for $10m, if I were them.


Oh yeah? Including not being able to see friends or family ever again? To live the rest of your life as a fugitive, always looking over your shoulder? I dunno...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:13 AM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't think they actually got their hands on $10M. Most banks have rigorous controls on dispensing cash; for example, in the UK you typically can't withdraw more than £10K without prior arrangement.

They claim this is for your own protection, but I think it speaks poorly of their asset / liability management in general, and banks rapacious drive for profits specifically; they don't maintain adequate liquid capital in the branches to meet a surge in withdrawals as such cash, sitting idle in a cash drawer, isn't earning the bank any money at all. So they inconvenience us if we need more than their arbitrarily low and frequently not well communicated limits (i.e., I needed about £11K to pay a contractor, I'd negotiated a cash deal for a much lower price, and had to come back two days later for the money ... ).

But let's assume they did indeed have $10M in their account. Maybe they could withdraw a few thousand, over a two day period perhaps a few tens of thousands. Next step would be to transfer the rest to a foreign domiciled bank account. Problem is, how would they get such an account? If they walked into a branch in New Zealand, they'd have a problem as that bank more than likely would be regulated by the New Zealand monetary authority, indicating some degree of reciprocity between the two nations.

Regardless, if the account did in fact exist, a transfer of such a size would attract much attention. Not only between the banks but also from the authorities i.e., money laundering.

Seems like the key issue would be getting the cash into a country that won't extradite to New Zealand. That account you'd need? Unlikely that you'd be able open such an account in New Zealand, as you need an account in a country that is either indifferent to New Zealand, or even better, openly hostile.

But if you did have such an account, I'd suggest Africa. I worked for a long time in Africa, and some of the ex-pats I knew had rather shady pasts (in fact were rather dubious even when I knew them; I always watched my wallet and posessions around them ... ) and were sometimes being pursued for debts. Nigeria, at least, wouldn't honour a US judgement and there are even wilder places where you could easily hide in plain site. You can live very, very well in most African nations if you're lucky enough to have money, and cash goes very, very far down there.

So an identity change wouldn't be necessary. Just get the money and your good self to a foreign country that won't extradite to New Zealand. And then say put, or carefully restrict your travel to other such nations. And pay attention to changes in local law! I know someone who did get a sudden trip to the United States (and a prison cell) when extradition laws suddenly changed and he hadn't bribed the right people.

Or, more properly, rebribed them. It seemed that in this situation, the other side paid more. So the only winner were the guys in the middle, getting paid from both sides.

Not sure it would be worth $10M. But $100M is close.
posted by Mutant at 1:18 AM on May 21, 2009 [17 favorites]


Oh yeah? Including not being able to see friends or family ever again?

Maybe their family is full of assholes and their friends are wankers. Ever think of that?
posted by delmoi at 1:19 AM on May 21, 2009 [11 favorites]


Don't be such a pessimist, flapjax! Historically, these sorts of things have ended very well.
posted by ford and the prefects at 1:23 AM on May 21, 2009


Go on take the money and run hoo hoo ho
posted by Rubbstone at 1:24 AM on May 21, 2009


They'll get caught, simply because they have no experience in trying to outwit the resources that will be used to track them down.

No matter how many Bourne movies they've seen.
posted by bwg at 1:47 AM on May 21, 2009


as you need an account in a country that is either indifferent to New Zealand, or even better, openly hostile.

Yeah, finding someone who is indifferent to NZ, that's going to be difficult...

Also, this is $10m NZ. Hardly worth it really.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:54 AM on May 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Probably the best course of action would be to post an anonymous AskMe requesting help for a scene "in a novel I'm writing", openly explain the exact details of the situation, and wait for Mutant to tell you what to do.

Mutant's advice reminds me of be smart from the very beginning. If you find yourself killing a man in your house, chances are you won't have the immediate wherewithall to dispose of the body perfectly. Similarly, chances are the guy who happens to get 10 million all of a sudden won't have the financial and criminal acumen to get away with it.

On the other hand, depending on how Asian the "Asian" couple is, they might already have foreign bank accounts or at least family they could transfer the money to.
posted by creasy boy at 1:57 AM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


More information here, suggests they may be in China. So (replying to creasy boy) if they're ethnically Chinese they could easily be 4th generation NZers and have no contacts outside the country; or they could have come in as business migrants a couple of years ago, or anything in between.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:13 AM on May 21, 2009


Couple likely in China -- the stolen amount is NZ$6m, $4m having been recovered. If found and extradited, they may face up to 7 years in prison.

The woman involved has a school-aged daughter. Will it be worth it? I keep pondering what I would do in their situation, right after shitting my pants.
posted by tracicle at 2:20 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The couple (or the man, anyway) is Korean, so they may have no ties at all in China.
posted by tracicle at 2:21 AM on May 21, 2009


Maybe their family is full of assholes and their friends are wankers. Ever think of that?

"Ever" think of that? No, not really. Thinking about hypothetical situations like this, involving people I don't know, is not something i do all that often, actually. But, yeah, sure, if indeed their family is full of assholes and their friends are wankers, then I reckon it wouldn't be as hard a decision to just go for the money. There'd still be the fugitive thing I mentioned, but, hey, they might like being fugitives. See? I thought of that!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:30 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well what if they're under an ancient Sumerian curse that turns all their ill-gotten gains into angry crocodiles? Did you think of THAT? No, and that's why you'd get eaten by crocodiles in their situation. If you were under such a curse, I mean.
posted by No-sword at 2:54 AM on May 21, 2009 [14 favorites]


I keep pondering what I would do in their situation, right after shitting my pants.

Yeah pondering really helps me "loosen up" also
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:56 AM on May 21, 2009


posted by delmoi Maybe their family is full of assholes and their friends are wankers. Ever think of that?

Well, what if they gave all the money to charity, and the bank hired Robert DeNiro as a tough bounty hunter to bring them back, and during a madcap week-long cross-country trip, they all became friends and learned a little about themselves, and each other? And then, what if someone made a movie about it, and made a million dollars? Did you ever think of THAT? No, you didn't, which is why you are not a millionaire screenwriter.
posted by mattdidthat at 3:03 AM on May 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


Why couldn't they be more malicious, hypocritical and shortsighted, like the other recipients of multi-million dollar payouts from financial human 'errors'? This will be their downfall: that they don't belong to the same culture of too-big-to-fail, huge-salary-attracts-the-best thinking that the other recipients of communal money are party to.
posted by davemee at 3:30 AM on May 21, 2009


For the curious, the amount was about six million U.S. dollars or ~4.5 million euros. Certainly a significant amount.
posted by Ljubljana at 3:34 AM on May 21, 2009


I'm going to take it as a sign of maturity, humility and thankfulness to consider that $10 million (USD or not) isn't enough for me to abandon any of my friends and family, even though I really could probably sincerely use a hundredth or thousandth of it for medical, dental and optical reasons, much less buying some fancy new kit and some beers on the beach in Lagos.
posted by loquacious at 3:42 AM on May 21, 2009


That should be "couple flees", not "couple flee", shouldn't it?
posted by bunglin jones at 3:45 AM on May 21, 2009


Vanuatu is just a discount flight away with some strict bank secrecy laws. I imagine a phone call to one of their banks might be all that is required to open such a special account if your opening deposit is $10m. Ronnie Biggs lived for years in Brazil on much less, and his whereabouts were well known so his family and friends could visit if desired.
But I would probably try to disappear with the money while leaving a trail of anonymous cryptic clues to the media - make it front page news globally, then retire off the legitimately earned memoir royalties and movie rights.
If I make it clear with the cash, great, if not payola anyway.
posted by bystander at 3:46 AM on May 21, 2009


Oh yeah? Including not being able to see friends or family ever again?

Not ever again? I'll do it for 10K. Who do I make the check out to?
posted by orme at 3:50 AM on May 21, 2009 [18 favorites]


Dear Mr Mutant,
I am the lucky owner of $10m NZD (New Zealand Dollars) smuggled out of New Zealand by my late parents to Nigeria.
Kindly forward your bank details by express messenger for 10% (ten percent) service for you invaluable assistance.
Regards and Salutations,
Rev. Bystander II
posted by bystander at 3:50 AM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can't say I wouldn't do the same....

I can.

The stress alone wouldn't be worth it for me. And there's the whole morals thing that I can't shake - even being an atheist.
posted by Bort at 4:00 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a bank we're talking about. Morals wouldn't play a part in my decision.
posted by gman at 4:05 AM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out if "overdraft" means the same in NZ as it does here. Doesn't that imply that you didn't find $10M in your account, but that you had a $10M line of credit? For purposes of stealing things, I suppose it doesn't make much difference...other than you can jet to the country of your choice, and write the bank there a cheque for $10M, without worrying about wiring funds and all that, eh?

(A friend once found a six-figure sum had been deposited into his account from Uncle Sam, a tax refund for a business that was misrouted, as it turns out. He watched it for a week or so and got in touch with the bank, who told him there was not a mistake. He then got in touch with the government, who--eventually--got their money back. It took a few months, all the while it just sat there.

He said the worst part was the gov't person he talked to said "thanks for getting in touch, no one probably would have noticed otherwise.")
posted by maxwelton at 4:09 AM on May 21, 2009


If these guys get caught, I really want them to get a ballsy lawyer who will vigorously use the "What would YOU do?" defense in front of a jury.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:19 AM on May 21, 2009



If I have cash in hand or equivalent and make it to Nigeria or wherever I would think a profitable 'negotiated settlement/reward' might be a possibility. I think a bank's insuror might be willing to settle for say a 60% return as opposed to a 100% loss.
posted by notreally at 4:20 AM on May 21, 2009


I closed an account in Ireland and asked them to tranfer the remaining funds (of £25.06) to my account in England. I got a letter from my English bank a week later acknowledging that they had received the transfer of a little over £92 million. I ran to the ATM, hoping that finally, just like the game Monopoly had lead me to expect might happen someday, there had been a bank error in my favour, and trying to work out how much interest I might get to keep even if, having realised their mistake, the bank was able to get the principal back.

But I was still overdrawn by £300.

I went to my branch, on the way realising the cause of the mistake (someone - or, more likely, some machine) had inserted my old account number into the wrong part of the letter. The manager laughed it off and told me "not to worry" and that the error was with the letter, not the account and that the money had never been transferred.

That was in September 2001. It's all been downhill since then.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 4:32 AM on May 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


That should be "couple flees", not "couple flee", shouldn't it?


In British English, collective nouns like couple can take either the singular or the plural.

In American English, they're usually treated as singular.

He/She flees (singular)
They flee (plural)

so couple flee treats 'couple' as a plural (British & Commonwealth)
couple flees treats it as a singular (American usage)

Hence:
Parliament are in session
Congress is in session

This concludes the test of the transatlantic grammar lesson system
posted by atrazine at 4:33 AM on May 21, 2009 [21 favorites]


I would be sorely tempted but as mutant points out, it would be tough knowing how to deal with the funds and get away with it.

This concludes the test of the transatlantic grammar lesson system

And we am very grateful.
posted by panboi at 4:49 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of couples are pretty self-contained. Maybe they thought they could run off together, live low-profile lives somewhere new, never worry about that damned gas station again, and not really mind never seeing other family and friends again.
posted by pracowity at 5:13 AM on May 21, 2009


Fugitive sex. That is happening.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:24 AM on May 21, 2009 [11 favorites]


They might be in China? Sounds like a place where you can't be exchanging a lot of hard currency without attracting attention and/or having a good reason for it. At least not legally.

I'm still unclear exactly how much cash they were able to obtain or how they were able to withdraw such a large amount. Can't NZ authorities freeze assets?
posted by kjars at 5:26 AM on May 21, 2009


this is the thread where mutant admits on the internets to participating in a contractor's tax fraud scheme, cash deal indead...we're watching!
posted by geos at 5:27 AM on May 21, 2009


My plan in such a situation involves Scooby Doo-style latex masks and copious piña coladas.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:27 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're not going to go unnoticed for long if you both look like Scooby Doo drinking piña coladas.
posted by pracowity at 5:31 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Parliament are in session

That sounds awful to (my) British ears. "Manchester United are doing well this season" on the other hand seems fine. Hmm.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:34 AM on May 21, 2009


Well, I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling kids.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:42 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Manchester United are doing well this season" on the other hand seems fine.

That's on account of you being a bloody wanker. Go Arsenal!
posted by graventy at 5:44 AM on May 21, 2009 [16 favorites]


Somewhere in Nigeria an email is opened and immediately discarded:
Esteemed friend:
I am respectfully requesting your assistance in a matter of utmost confidence. Because of your sterling reputation I am willing to offer you the sum of NZ $1 million dollars...

posted by Killick at 6:02 AM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that this is actually a crime. They weren't taking someone else's property. They were taking property that was given to them, even if it was a mistaken gift.
posted by bperk at 6:04 AM on May 21, 2009


game warden to the events rhino: "That sounds awful to (my) British ears."

I'm going to take a relaxed attitude towards work and read about my favorite baseball squadron.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:24 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to believe that this is actually a crime.

Yeah, I mean, whatever happened to "finders, keepers"?

It seems that, where so many other current events are concerned, our legal authorities have regressed to schoolyard caliber legal reasoning. So why not finally just codify the universal law of playground rhymes and be done with it?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:29 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that in countries where it is easy and cheap to hide, it would also be cheap and easy to have you killed. By the bank, by the local government, by your greedy spouse. Good luck with that windfall.

Now, the smart thing to do would be to use part of that money doing something grand and stupid so that when you give the money back (and you will, eventually give the money back) you have movie rights to sell.
posted by ColdChef at 6:38 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to believe that this is actually a crime.

If I wrote my landlord a check for 100,000 dollars when I meant to write him a 1,000 dollar rent check (damn those decimals), and he cashed the check anyway, I would hope the law would help me get my money back unless the landlord could produce a convincing argument for why I really meant to pay him a hundred times too much.
posted by pracowity at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're not going to go unnoticed for long if you both look like Scooby Doo drinking piña coladas.

247 days and counting, biotch!
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:41 AM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now, the smart thing to do would be to use part of that money doing something grand and stupid so that when you give the money back (and you will, eventually give the money back) you have movie rights to sell.

Or else something demonstrably "humanitarian" -- not just donating it to some charity, because then you've screwed the charity -- but something along the lines of paying to install solar power, clean sewer systems and a medical clinic in some poor african village. Include lots of time spent in manual labor, and be goddamn certain you get filmed doing this.

Then when you get seized you can A) play the martyr card, and B) spend the rest of your post-prison life on the speaking circuit, after the documentary extolling your virtues gets shown at Cannes.
posted by aramaic at 6:44 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


...I would hope the law would help me get my money back unless the landlord could produce a convincing argument for why I really meant to pay him a hundred times too much.

Losers weepers.

Convinced?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:50 AM on May 21, 2009


There are plenty of havens for ill gotten gains, the caymans come to mind. Full of banks that won't tell anyone anything.

As far as the criminality of what they did, if they used a 10m line of credit, they did something illegal. Now, if the bank accidentally put 10m in their account, i'm not so sure it should be illegal. What if I showed up at your house, and handed you a duffel bag filled with 10m in cash, then came back a week later, and said I'd made a mistake. You would tell me to get stuffed. How is a mistaken transfer of funds any different?
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 6:51 AM on May 21, 2009


...I would hope the law would help me get my money back unless the landlord could produce a convincing argument for why I really meant to pay him a hundred times too much.

That's what civil law does. You could sue your landlord to get the money back, but you couldn't get your landlord thrown in jail for your mistake. It seems a different standard applies to bank errors.
posted by bperk at 6:53 AM on May 21, 2009


How is a mistaken transfer of funds any different?

Because a bank is involved. I'm serious; one lesson of the past few months is that banks get to have special rules.
posted by aramaic at 6:53 AM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Keep in mind that in countries where it is easy and cheap to hide, it would also be cheap and easy to have you killed.

This is why it's important to set aside a portion of your stolen money for building a secret lair inside a volcano, hiring beautiful female assassins as bodyguards, replacing most of your vital organs with robot parts, etc. It might be a good idea also invest early on in a doomsday device of some sort (kidnapping nuclear scientists is a good way to do it on the cheap) which you can then use to extort millions of dollars from various world leaders.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:54 AM on May 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


That's what civil law does. You could sue your landlord to get the money back, but you couldn't get your landlord thrown in jail for your mistake.

Wrong. If your landlord cashed your check and ran away with the money, then the landlord could be charged with larceny. The landlord knew (or should have known) that the money was not properly theirs to keep. The same principle applies here.
posted by brain_drain at 6:58 AM on May 21, 2009


(At least that's the way it would work in the U.S.; not sure about N.Z.)
posted by brain_drain at 6:59 AM on May 21, 2009


Gee, thanks burnmp3s. Now everybody knows my cunning plan.
posted by Floydd at 7:00 AM on May 21, 2009


I find it hard to believe that this is actually a crime.

I lost my wallet not too long ago, and it was found on someone by the police, empty of cash. I was perfectly happy just getting it back, but the police wanted to charge the person who had it. I was sure that I had lost it, not had it stolen. I asked the police about the applicible law (here in Canada), and they said the charge would be 'theft by finding'. Who knew?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:05 AM on May 21, 2009


What brain_drain said. For the large part, it's sort of a good thing that "I'm going to pretend I'm stupid and didn't think it was wrong to do this" isn't a valid legal excuse.

On a legal level, this reads like the most juvenile bullshit ever. I mean that literally- people are essentially arguing if there should be a "no backsies!" clause in accounting.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:05 AM on May 21, 2009


What if I showed up at your house, and handed you a duffel bag filled with 10m in cash, then came back a week later, and said I'd made a mistake. You would tell me to get stuffed. How is a mistaken transfer of funds any different?

If you gave me a bag with $10mm and told me it was mine to keep, then it's a gift and I get to keep it. If you, a stranger, came to my house and gave me a bag with $10mm and ran off saying nothing at all, then that's a totally bizarre hypothetical, but there's a good argument that it's mine to keep since I have no good reason to believe otherwise (subject to any applicable laws about reporting large sums of found money to the police).

By contrast, the couple in this case asked for $10k and received $10mm -- 1,000 times their request -- so they had strong reason to believe they were receiving money that wasn't intended for them.
posted by brain_drain at 7:09 AM on May 21, 2009


On a legal level, this reads like the most juvenile bullshit ever. I mean that literally- people are essentially arguing if there should be a "no backsies!" clause in accounting.

lighten up, XQUZYPHY! I think most of the people you're referring to are just indulging in a little whimsical wishful thinking, not seriously arguing that the couple in this case has a right to keep the dough. (Then again, maybe forcing the bank to eat the loss would be one way to teach it to be a little more careful when it goes moving millions of dollars around.)
posted by saulgoodman at 7:12 AM on May 21, 2009


What if I showed up at your house, and handed you a duffel bag filled with 10m in cash, then came back a week later, and said I'd made a mistake.

Actually, I'm pretty sure if you walked up to someone and handed them a sack of ten million in cash, you'd already be in legal trouble by not reporting that to the IRS as a taxable gift.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:20 AM on May 21, 2009


My son and I talked about this on the way to school--how tempting it would be, and how you'd have to change your identity completely, and all the rest. We were thinking the Cayman Islands maybe would be a good place to stash it.

And he said, as some of you are saying, that it was just the bank's mistake so they should be able to keep the money.

And I tried to explain to him that this was just convenient, magical thinking, making the bank into some entity that didn't have actual people working there, that wasn't full of money from real people who might even be their friends or their family, so that really it was like stealing from all of them.

And of course, in the back of my mind, I found myself wondering what I would do if several million dollars suddenly dropped into my lap.

You know what I think should happen, when it's like maxwelton's friend's case, where he duly reported the error and it took forever for them to make things right?

I think the interest accrued on that money, while the error is being corrected, should go to the people who do the right thing and report the mistake.

But that's probably magical thinking on my part, too.
posted by misha at 7:21 AM on May 21, 2009


But, yeah, sure, if indeed their family is full of assholes and their friends are wankers, then I reckon it wouldn't be as hard a decision to just go for the money.

You know how you can turn your whole family and all your friends into insufferable wankers?

Have ten million dollars.
posted by rokusan at 7:22 AM on May 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


Imagining that this couple is Beavis and Butthead makes this story funnier.

Butthead: Uh..we'd like two tickets to Nigeria please. Uhh uhuhhu.
Beavis: Hee hee.
Airport security guard: Ok. May I see your passports?
Butthead: Uhh.. Here it is. wink wink.
Airport: Sir, are you trying to bribe me?
Beavis: Heeheeheheh!! Briiiiiiibe.
Butthead: She said Bribe. Huhghguh.
posted by metastability at 7:28 AM on May 21, 2009


*clap clap clap clap*
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:32 AM on May 21, 2009


My great-grandfather was a bank robber. Seriously. Alas, he got caught and sent to prison for many years, but I've learned things over my lifetime that would prevent me being in the same situation as my Great Grand Dad Melvin.

For instance, in this case if someone asked me why I'd kept the money, I'd say I learned it all from Monopoly. "Bank error in your favor" -- doesn't that mean that you get to keep the money? I mean, obviously?
posted by brina at 7:40 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


PS. My family is always trying to tell me Melvin wasn't an actual bank robber. He just drove the get-away car. But even get-away drivers count as bank robbers, if you ask me.
posted by brina at 7:42 AM on May 21, 2009


I think that if someone came up to me and handed me a bag with $10 million in it, and then came back later and wanted it back, I'd give it to them out of fear of their superhuman strength. $10 million, even in the largest circulating denomination, is pretty damn heavy.

On the other hand, if I had a little time, I could rig the bag with superglue on the handle and a tape player inside that made loud ticking sounds and "60 seconds to detonation" alarms. I'd have a little fun watching them run around in a blind panic, then I'd drive the van with the cash in it to... hey, I'm not telling you. Almost had me there, eh?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:42 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're willing to flee for 10 million, you'd probably flee for $5 million as well. So here's what I do: Take half the money to a casino, and make a single large bet. You'll need to get the casino's ok for this. Table limits are normally around 10k, but I'm optimistic the casino's greed will win out and they'll take the bet.

Assuming you pick something conservative like blackjack, you have just over a 50% chance of losing. And if you lose, you flee with the remaining $5 Million.. But if you win, you walk out, return the 10 million to the bank, and live off the $5 million you won (minus applicable taxes).
posted by ShadowCrash at 7:44 AM on May 21, 2009 [15 favorites]


Holy shit that is a good idea.
posted by creasy boy at 7:59 AM on May 21, 2009


But it wouldn't work.
posted by creasy boy at 8:01 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why not? Sounds bulletproof.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:07 AM on May 21, 2009


Financial question: if you want 10 million in cash from a New Zealand bank you'll have to tell them a good while in advance. Say you happen to have a Nigerian bank account and you transfer the money there and follow it by plane. You're not getting 10 million in cash from the Nigerian bank any time soon either -- it's just a number in ledger, not actual money. Would the Nigerian bank actually be able to hold on to the money, or would the NZ bank be able to negate the transaction according to NZ law? No actual cash has passed hands at that point.
posted by creasy boy at 8:08 AM on May 21, 2009


Meatbomb: because no bank in the world is handing you that much cash. At first I was thinking: transfer the money to China, fly to China, bet in a Chinese casino, if you win transfer the money back and return to NZ, if you lose stay in China...but I don't think a Chinese bank will accept a transfer of 10 million and then hand it to you in cash the same day.
posted by creasy boy at 8:11 AM on May 21, 2009


Hell, I got an extra $5 in change back at a drive-through window the other day and was tempted to flee the country.

For entirely unrelated reasons.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:14 AM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Vegas Casinos allow people to gamble with bankrolls in the millions on a regular basis. You don't need to show up with the 10 million in cash. You just go talk to the casino like any other high roller. They verify you have the cash in your account and can write the check, and they'll credit you the money to bet. Getting the $5 Million to flee would be more difficult, but obviously the people in the story figured out some way to do it.
posted by ShadowCrash at 8:16 AM on May 21, 2009


I would not run. I'd be tempted sure, but whoever that 10 million belonged to would want it back and then would make life complicated. I like my uncomplicated life.

I would, however, have hot, sweaty sex on the cash and then ask them if they really wanted it back.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 AM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


WWED?

What would Enron do?
posted by Xoebe at 8:24 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would, however, have hot, sweaty sex on the cash and then ask them if they really wanted it back.

They are bankers. Their lust for the cash would overcome any temporary distaste they experienced.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:25 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Two chicks at the same time.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:27 AM on May 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


1) Use the overdraft as collateral for a loan
2) Return the overdraft
3) Invest half of the loan in a guaranteed, low return bond or whatever
4) The return on your investment will probably not keep up with the interest on the loan, but you should still be able to draw the payment process out over several years while living quite nicely off of the second half of the loan - more than enough time to squirrel away some serious retirement money in undetectable, offshore accounts
5) Declare bankruptcy
6) Move to sunny Island nation with low incidents of kidnapping wealthy foreigners
7) PROFIT!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:45 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I bet you could get a pretty swell laser for $10 million. A good tool to begin a life of supervillainy.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:51 AM on May 21, 2009


Pfft, you couldn't even buy a fleet of used F-4s with a measly $10 million.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 AM on May 21, 2009


i think this is exactly how the next terrorist attack will go down. they'll hack the banks, start transferring money into and out of accounts, thereby creating panic, which will undoubtedly lead to riots after banks worldwide shut down all transactions while trying to untie the gordian knot. complete, total chaos without ever firing a shot.
posted by msconduct at 9:08 AM on May 21, 2009


The idea that our banks actually have sitting in their safes, in cold hard cash, the amounts totaling all of our collective accounts, that is magical thinking, too.
posted by adipocere at 9:13 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


What about a duck swimming around in a giant pile of gold coins?
posted by dirigibleman at 9:19 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Take half the money to a casino, and make a single large bet.

You'd still have to hope the bank didn't press charges for taking and spending its money, even though you had the money only briefly and brought it all back. Your plan would be better for a situation in which it is not yet known that the money is missing and when it is somehow possible for you to silently replace the money before they notice that it's gone.

But people are strange. I bet this couple runs off to Tahiti and buys a gas station.
posted by pracowity at 9:41 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding extradition, I'm aware of a case (described here) where there was no extradition treaty, but the country didn't want to harbor the accused, so he was deported.
posted by exogenous at 9:54 AM on May 21, 2009


I would get plastic surgery and then start wiring small amounts to offshore banks around the world. If I've got that much money, I've got nothing but time.

In fact, I might even apply for a banking license in Nauru and filter the money through there. Nauru is one of the only countries that doesn't require banking transactions be documented.

Yeah, they'll probably get caught in the end, but I'll be watching this with interest to see what they try to do to move the remaining $2 mil.
posted by reenum at 9:56 AM on May 21, 2009


I feel sorry for the bank!




...no, not really.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


pracowity, it's been a while since I last gambled millions, but I would assume the casino wouldn't bother to transfer funds in and out of your account. My thinking was they would verify you have the funds, then credit you with chips. At the end of the night, when you settle up, they'd debit/credit your account. This way they only need to move money once.
posted by ShadowCrash at 10:27 AM on May 21, 2009


I still don't get it. How do they get the money?

They couldn't possibly withdraw a significant amount of cash. It would literally take a lifetime to withdraw that much via ATM, for example, given the daily limits that banks impose as a matter of course.

So they transfer it to some other bank? Doesn't the bank that they took it from know exactly what other bank it went to, and even the account number?
posted by Flunkie at 10:42 AM on May 21, 2009


"Thanks for getting in touch, no one probably would have noticed otherwise."
This happened to my boss at a small company I worked at. General Motors sent us a check for just over $3 million (it was supposed to be for $3000). My boss contacted some executive there, made an appointment, and returned the check. (Turned out they'd written out the purchase order incorrectly, marking the price unit as "per pound" instead of "per hundred weight".) The guy accepted the check and thanked my boss, saying they would've never caught it, because according to their records, the amount paid matched the amount on the purchase order. To add insult to injury, a week later my boss got a letter from a higher-up at GM stating that while the company appreciates his honesty, he should not expect any sort of preferential treatment in future dealings.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2009 [8 favorites]


"As far as the criminality of what they did, if they used a 10m line of credit, they did something illegal."

This is what I don't get. If a bank sends you a credit card unsolicited, and you use it, you've accepted loan offered. You can even take a cash advance for the limit of the card. Why is a line of credit any different. They'd be up for having to make the payments on the LOC at the end of the month but until then go nuts.
posted by Mitheral at 11:03 AM on May 21, 2009


Yes. Yes I are.
posted by grateful at 11:10 AM on May 21, 2009


How much of a cut would one have to part with to buy emergency legislation legalizing the windfall?
posted by Hylas at 11:40 AM on May 21, 2009


I bet you could get a pretty swell laser for $10 million.

And some sharks.
posted by rokusan at 2:30 PM on May 21, 2009


So they transfer it to some other bank? Doesn't the bank that they took it from know exactly what other bank it went to, and even the account number?

Yes, they do. Transferred in-country in New Zealand it would be pretty trivial to get back via the interbank transfer mechanisms we operate here.

International transfers are a different matter; they happen via the SWIFT network and, in most cases, once you send money via SWIFT, it's gone. You can contact the other bank and ask them to send you the money back, I guess, but SWIFT itself isn't going to make them for such a small amount[1].

So yeah, if you wanted to get money out of the grasp of the local-to-you banking system, a SWIFT transfer is the best way to do it. If you target banks and countries with "vigorous privacy laws" your victim can pretty much go whistle.

Also, as noted upthread, the couple are reported as being Korean. If they were immigrants with no deep roots in New Zealand, they may well not be leaving anything they care about behind. Their daughter might have a different view, of course.

[1] There's a reason people who maintain SWIFT systems tend to be quite... careful.
posted by rodgerd at 3:31 PM on May 21, 2009


Wonderful! Let's get Sam Raimi and the Cohen brothers to write/direct. I just have a few notes.

1- "Tico Tico" needs to be used at least once.
2- The couple has to have a pet sheep.
posted by The Whelk at 5:20 PM on May 21, 2009


And there's the whole morals thing that I can't shake - even being an atheist.

What does being an atheist have to do with whether or not someone has morals?
posted by crossoverman at 7:23 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


People tend to equate atheist with amoral.
posted by Bort at 8:07 PM on May 21, 2009


One issue is the weight of the money. Are there NZ $500 notes? Plus, you'd have to get dollars or Euros, $10 NZ in cash in another jurisdiction is going to raise attention. $1 million US in twenties weighs 70 pounds. Four million, 280 pounds. If you were able to get US $100 notes, you'd cut out a lot of the weight; 500 Euro notes even better. It's very difficult to cross borders with that much cash.

If you don't want to carry the money around, where can you just show up and deposit this money in a bank? There are only two jurisdictions that I know of--Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Israel. Neither are good solutions. If you're Jewish, you could deposit the money and there's no extradition from Israel unless you're Meyer Lansky. But you may be prosecuted in Israel, and if you are, that's the end of your money. That means you have to keep your money in cash, at least for the time being.

You're also going to need new passports, and rather quickly. Remember, they had no time to plan for this. The perps are husband and wife gas station owners. If they want to keep their money, they are going to have to learn how to be criminals very, very quickly.
posted by tesseract420 at 2:16 AM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remember, they had no time to plan for this. The perps are husband and wife gas station owners. If they want to keep their money, they are going to have to learn how to be criminals very, very quickly.

That's why I smiled at the part about them fleeing to China. It seems like for rookie scam artists that was their best bet - assuming they speak Chinese and still have family connections there. Once there they can find contacts that do know how to do the bank transfers with sympathetic local Chinese banks, etc.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:32 AM on May 23, 2009


People tend to equate atheist with amoral.

They do?
posted by crossoverman at 6:00 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


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