Author Topic: Aussie bank 'glitch' gave teen access to $4.6m overdraft; she spent $3.3m  (Read 17472 times)

mustachepungoeshere

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http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/national/woman-to-appear-in-waverley-local-court-after-46-million-wrongly-transferred-into-account/news-story/e6cc977ee203befa26d2c861de02b404

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A “GLITCH” in Westpac’s banking system allowed a Sydney teenager access to $4.6 million, part of which she spent on luxury handbags, a court has heard.

The bank inadvertently gave the woman, who is now 21, access to an unlimited overdraft account four years ago when she was 17. In the time since, she has spent $3.3 million as the bank attempted to get the money back, it was detailed in Waverley Local Court on Thursday morning.

The woman was arrested last night trying to fly to Malaysia after obtaining an emergency passport.

The court heard a glitch made the $4.6 million available as a credit and there was “$3.3 million outstanding”. Police allege she used the overdraft account on numerous occasions between July 2014 and March 2015.

Magistrate Lisa Stapleton told the court that this was not a straightforward case as the money came as an overdraft and therefore there was an expectation that it be repaid.

And when detailing the amount that was made available to the woman, Ms Stapleton said it was “money we all dream about”.

Rustycage

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How hard did Westpac actually try to get the money back? It's been four years!

Surely given the amount they would have some safeguards or monitoring in place?

KodeBlue

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Surely given the amount they would have some safeguards or monitoring in place?

I'll bet they do now.

11ducks

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I'm a little impressed she managed to spend $3.3 mill in a few years, that's some hardcore shopping.

mohawkbrah

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thats still only a drop of water for a bank in terms of cash.

gooki

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I'm more concerned why they were arrested. Sounds like a civil law matter, not criminal law.

ooeei

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I'm more concerned why they were arrested. Sounds like a civil law matter, not criminal law.

I'm guessing it's because she was trying to flee the country...

GuitarStv

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So banks can make backroom deals to lie about the rating for mortgages, repackage and resell these mortgages over and over again, then cause a financial crisis wiping out trillions of other people's dollars . . . and then they get bailed out by the people whose money they stole while collecting huge bonuses.  Nobody goes to jail.

Someone who takes advantage of an error made by a bank is treated as a criminal though.

Funny world we live in.

fattest_foot

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Is it really an error made by the bank, though?

I mean, yes, they granted her an overdraft limit that is obscene, but it'd be similar to if a credit card accidently raised your limit to $4 million.

If you run up $4 million on your credit card, I'd say it's really more of a malicious act by you and has very little to do with the credit card company.

forummm

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Is it really an error made by the bank, though?

I mean, yes, they granted her an overdraft limit that is obscene, but it'd be similar to if a credit card accidently raised your limit to $4 million.

If you run up $4 million on your credit card, I'd say it's really more of a malicious act by you and has very little to do with the credit card company.

No, you are just promising to repay that $4 million. But promises are broken all the time. That's why the interest rate is higher for unsecured debt like a credit card. There's nothing illegal about maxing out a $4 million credit line and then not paying it back. The bank can sue you to repay, but can't force you to do anything or send you to jail (unless you committed fraud to get that credit line).

slugline

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Laying aside the ethical dimension, I'm not sure the consumerist spending was the totally anti-Mustachian choice. At first I thought someone with access to that sum of money should have invested it instead, but perhaps she probably realized the bank would eventually figure out the error and have any ill-gained assets seized. So from a utilitarian perspective, it was best to go ahead and go on a hedonistic binge on things that couldn't be clawed back by the court system. I hope it was all worth it, Ms. Lee!

MgoSam

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Shoot, that means that when we collect on that Monopoly card, we could get arrested. I imagine that would be an instant disqualification.

chouchouu

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So banks can make backroom deals to lie about the rating for mortgages, repackage and resell these mortgages over and over again, then cause a financial crisis wiping out trillions of other people's dollars . . . and then they get bailed out by the people whose money they stole while collecting huge bonuses.  Nobody goes to jail.

Someone who takes advantage of an error made by a bank is treated as a criminal though.

Funny world we live in.

This happened in Australia, which is a very different banking system to the US.

gooki

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I'm more concerned why they were arrested. Sounds like a civil law matter, not criminal law.

I'm guessing it's because she was trying to flee the country...

It's perfectly legal to leave Australia with unpaid debts.

ormaybemidgets

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I'm more concerned why they were arrested. Sounds like a civil law matter, not criminal law.

I'm guessing it's because she was trying to flee the country...

It's perfectly legal to leave Australia with unpaid debts.

It's probably because she was supposed to be in court defending herself:

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in Waverley Local Court on Thursday morning.

The woman was arrested last night trying to fly to Malaysia after obtaining an emergency passport.

obstinate

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It can still be a criminal matter, even if it's just money that's involved. And that surely does seem to be the case here, given that the police are doing the investigation. Using money that is not rightfully yours, even if an error on the part of a bank is the only reason you have access to it, might be fraud in many jurisdictions.

I'm sure y'all know this, but you're talking as if you don't, so I just thought it was worth reminding you. All the "whatabout" comparisons to mortgage fraud on the part of the banks are not going to help this woman at all in court.

GuitarStv

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I'm sure y'all know this, but you're talking as if you don't, so I just thought it was worth reminding you. All the "whatabout" comparisons to mortgage fraud on the part of the banks are not going to help this woman at all in court.

Of course the comparisons aren't going to help.  The legal system is really only concerned about justice when it comes to punishing the poor.

AH013

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The reason she was arrested is because it is considered bank fraud.

If you use your credit card, and you don't pay it off, then it's a civil issue of you defaulting on a loan.

If you write a check, and you don't have the funds to process it (overdraft), then you've committed bank fraud.  Often, the bank as a courtesy pays your check anyway, and you end up in overdraft.  And often you didn't intentionally mean to write a bad check, so there is no intent (remember: a crime = action + intent).  When you write $3M in checks when you know your account balance is around $20, you know darn well you are writing bad checks, even if the bank foolishly continues to provide overdraft coverage.

That's probably why she was arrested. 

MoneyCat

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The lady is question is most assuredly what my Aussie friends refer to as a "bogan". That was typical bogan behavior.

chouchouu

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The lady is question is most assuredly what my Aussie friends refer to as a "bogan". That was typical bogan behavior.

I'm Aussie, I would not call her a bogan. For one bogans do not have degrees in chemical engineering. Bogans would never bother getting an education in this situation, it would be a souped up car, McMansion and holidays in Bali. The only thing botanist the fancy handbags but fancy handbags are common to many socioeconomic groups in Sydney, especially the new Australian ethnic Chinese group to which she belongs.

BattlaP

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If only she'd invested it in index funds like a good Mustachian, she could give the bank all their money back and still have enough left to buy ridiculous handbags for years to come

VaCPA

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I'm a little impressed she managed to spend $3.3 mill in a few years, that's some hardcore shopping.

My first thought too. It takes a lot of work to burn through that much money in such a short period of time on things like handbags.

.x.

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If only she'd invested it in index funds like a good Mustachian, she could give the bank all their money back and still have enough left to buy ridiculous handbags for years to come

This is the only answer that matters, and my new plan for any mysteriously-appearing overdraft-of-millions bank errors. Good to have a plan.

Miss Piggy

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I'm a little impressed she managed to spend $3.3 mill in a few years, that's some hardcore shopping.

My first thought too. It takes a lot of work to burn through that much money in such a short period of time on things like handbags.

Agreed. I'm a recovering handbag addict, and I'd be hard-pressed to spend that much on handbags and other crap.

GuitarStv

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If only she'd invested it in index funds like a good Mustachian, she could give the bank all their money back and still have enough left to buy ridiculous handbags for years to come

If there's a slight economic dip when the bank comes for their money you could well be heading to prison by following this strategy.  Indexing works well over very long periods of time.  It's riskier over short periods like this.

Playing with Fire UK

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The reason she was arrested is because it is considered bank fraud.

If you use your credit card, and you don't pay it off, then it's a civil issue of you defaulting on a loan.

If you write a check, and you don't have the funds to process it (overdraft), then you've committed bank fraud.  Often, the bank as a courtesy pays your check anyway, and you end up in overdraft.  And often you didn't intentionally mean to write a bad check, so there is no intent (remember: a crime = action + intent).  When you write $3M in checks when you know your account balance is around $20, you know darn well you are writing bad checks, even if the bank foolishly continues to provide overdraft coverage.

That's probably why she was arrested.

I don't know about Aus law but there is nothing illegal in the UK about writing a cheque that you know will take you into an overdraft. It's not a ubiquitous law.

TheGrimSqueaker

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The reason she was arrested is because it is considered bank fraud.

If you use your credit card, and you don't pay it off, then it's a civil issue of you defaulting on a loan.

If you write a check, and you don't have the funds to process it (overdraft), then you've committed bank fraud.  Often, the bank as a courtesy pays your check anyway, and you end up in overdraft.  And often you didn't intentionally mean to write a bad check, so there is no intent (remember: a crime = action + intent).  When you write $3M in checks when you know your account balance is around $20, you know darn well you are writing bad checks, even if the bank foolishly continues to provide overdraft coverage.

That's probably why she was arrested.

I don't know about Aus law but there is nothing illegal in the UK about writing a cheque that you know will take you into an overdraft. It's not a ubiquitous law.

Indeed. What a cheque is, what it represents in terms of a commitment from the person who wrote it and the bank listed on the front, and what happens if there aren't funds in the specific account attached to the cheque, varies from one country to the next. It's part of what you have to learn if you take up residence in another nation. Other things worth knowing include which electronic transactions are real-time, and which ones are not.

Luckyvik

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Geez that is a lot of money to blow through reminds me of that movie in the 80s where a guy had to spend $3mil in a month to inherit $30mil but he couldn't tell anyone so everyone thought that he was an idiot blowing the $3mil on wild parties etc.


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marty998

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Geez that is a lot of money to blow through reminds me of that movie in the 80s where a guy had to spend $3mil in a month to inherit $30mil but he couldn't tell anyone so everyone thought that he was an idiot blowing the $3mil on wild parties etc.


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Wasn't that an Adam Sandler movie? In the 90's?

I thought it was "spend $30 million to inherit $300 million"???

Maybe inflation took hold in the intervening years before the AS remake was done....

Luckyvik

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Geez that is a lot of money to blow through reminds me of that movie in the 80s where a guy had to spend $3mil in a month to inherit $30mil but he couldn't tell anyone so everyone thought that he was an idiot blowing the $3mil on wild parties etc.


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Wasn't that an Adam Sandler movie? In the 90's?

I thought it was "spend $30 million to inherit $300 million"???

Maybe inflation took hold in the intervening years before the AS remake was done....
Ah just looked it up 'Brewster's Millions Apparently it has been remade several times the earliest film version in the early 1900's.


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deadlymonkey

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she should have bought diamonds and precious metals and stashed them in safe deposit boxes all over the place.  Whenever she gets out of jail she is good to go.

Rustycage

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What would have happened if she took out the 4.6m, put it in Vanguard ETFs and collected the dividends?

Give back the 4.6, keep the % it earned?

:D

Mississippi Mudstache

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I dunno how Australian overdrafts work, but in the US there is a ~$35 fee for every overdraft transaction. So it's very likely that the actual amount that she spent is far less than the amount that the bank now says that she owes (Though she clearly spent an absolute shitload of money).

Kaspian

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If they can provide clear evidence that you never intend to pay back a loan, can it be considered theft?  The same way as if you agreed to pay somebody for a car but then took off in the car?

Metric Mouse

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she should have bought diamonds and precious metals and stashed them in safe deposit boxes all over the place.  Whenever she gets out of jail she is good to go.

Did you literally just use the plot of Blue Streak as investment advice?