Finders Keepers

Let’s say you had a certain amount of money deposited into your bank account unexpectedly… what would you do? What would you really do? What if the amount was only $50? What if it was $110,000? What if the amount was deposited by the IRS (or the Treasury)?

Would you try to figure out why it was deposited into your account? Or whether the funds actually belonged to you?

Or would you say nothing and just hope no one would notice there was a mistake made?

Or would you go out and spend it on your student loans, car payment, and foreclosure debt?

If you asked Stephen McDow, he probably would have answer yes to that last one.

You see where I’m going with this, right? McDow had $110,000 deposited into his account. He wasn’t expecting the money, and I’m willing to bet that not so deep down he knew that the money didn’t belong to him. Turns out that the money that was deposited into Mr. McDow’s account was actually a refund belonging to another taxpayer. Apparently, that taxpayer provided her accountant with information for a Citibank account that was closed in 2004. Citibank later reissued that account number to Mr. McDow.

After obtaining an e-mail address for McDow, the taxpayer had her attorney send him an e-mail with instructions to return the money. To which he responded that he’s already spent some of it—on student loans, a car loan, and a home loan, to be specific.

Mr. McDow apparently offered to make monthly payments, but let’s just say that that offer wasn’t accepted since the rightful owner reported the theft to the police.

McDow has since been arrested.

Who knows what was going through his head, but I just find it hard to fathom that someone can have that much money deposited in their account and not try to ensure that it really did belong to them. It’s one thing if you’re expecting it, but quite another to have that money mysteriously appear in your bank account one day.

Also, I guess I also don’t understand how someone who is expecting such a significant refund doesn’t bother to verify that the account number is correct before giving it to her accountant. The account was closed in 2004. I get that nowadays we rarely use checks and payments are withdrawn from your account automatically, but it was closed in 2004. 2004.

Apparently finders aren’t keepers.

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