Pay Attention When Transacting Online
Did you read the report about the Bellville man who discovered a surprise deposit in his bank account of almost R220 000 and decided to keep it?
Turned out he didn't have a mystery benefactor - an insurance broker had had finger trouble and paid the money into the man's bank account by mistake.
It was supposed to go into the account of a company as an insurance pay-out relating to a lightning strike claim.
When the company sought a civil court interdict compelling the man to pay back the money, the two parties apparently "settled" the matter outside court.
In recent years I've been asked to intervene in a number of such cases - admittedly none involving nearly as much money - by people who have transferred funds into the wrong account by mistake and then been unable to get the money back.
In some cases they were total strangers and just one wrong number entered into the account number field during the electronic funds transfer (EFT) process saw the money land up in their account; in others, the account holders clicked on the wrong beneficiary on their list by mistake.
Like the Belville man, the thought of all that lovely money somehow smothered their concept of right and wrong and rendered them seemingly unable to empathise with the person who'd mistakenly "gifted" them with their money.
In one case, a woman had paid a sum of about R12 000 to a company, which was on her list of EFT beneficiaries as it had previously done a service for her in her home.
She'd meant to pay the company one above it on her beneficiary list.
For weeks the company made excuses about why the money wasn't being paid back - the owner was away, the person who needed to authorise the payment was sick - but it soon became clear they had no intention of paying it back.
Intrigued at how the business justified holding onto money it had no right to, I contacted the owner, who told me he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and needed the money.
Never underestimate the ability of folk to find a means of justifying their ethically challenged acts.
I'm guessing quite a few people deposit money into the wrong accounts by mistake, because my bank recently included the following warning, in red, next to the account number field on its EFT page: "Ensure that you enter the correct account number here. …