For some this is a tricky question, as we all dream of winning the Lotto or receiving a windfall. The attached article explains what Mr Singh, a shopkeeper from Leicester, did with £766,000 that was accidentally deposited into his bank account over a 2 year period. Mr Singh used a portion of the money to buy a house and transferred some of the funds to India. 

Although the bulk of the money was still in his account when the error was finally found, he has been jailed for 12 months after admitting the theft.

Why can't you keep it?

The Theft Act 1968 deals with this type of scenario. It gives the following definition of theft:   

"A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it..." 

And it further states in relation to dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit:

"A person is guilty of an offence if—

(a) a wrongful credit has been made to an account kept by him or in respect of which he has any right or interest;

(b) he knows or believes that the credit is wrongful; and

(c) he dishonestly fails to take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to secure that the credit is cancelled."

In a similar case heard earlier this year in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Cormac Quinn commented: "If it's too good to be true it is because it is too good to be true." 

The lesson is clear, if money is paid into your account in error, contact your bank and don't spend the money. 

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