The Randy and Melissa Pratt Case: How a Bank Error Can be Anything But a "Gift from God"
Many of us have enjoyed sitting down for a good old round of Hasbro's board game Monopoly. If so, you might remember one of the game's cards giving us cash for a "bank error" in our favor. In the game, you're gifted some cash and go on your merry way toward more acquisitions and real estate joy. Real life, however, was not so kind to a Pennsylvania couple, Randy Pratt and his wife Melissa, after they ended up with $177,250 in their bank account instead of a $1,772.50 deposit.
Apparently, as reported by the AP, they proceeded to roll the dice and keep moving as they quietly withdrew the money, quit their jobs, and moved to Florida. For anyone that was wondering about the legality of bank error situations, the Pratts' case pretty much spells it out. The two now face charges of felony theft and conspiracy, despite Randy Pratt's claim that, after he told the bank about the error and was ignored, he considered the money to be "a gift from God."
If someone is faced with a similar situation, regardless of the size of the bank error at issue, they should notify the bank and not spend the money. Spending the "gifted" money just means that an individual might end up being in debt to the bank later. Of course, a bank is more likely to notice larger errors than small, but the law considers the money to be the bank's regardless of the amount involved. On the other hand, the more money is involved in a bank error, perhaps the greater the temptation is for the poor recipient.
To make matters worse for Randy Pratt, his wife told the court the two are now estranged. She's out free on unsecured bail, while he sits in county prison with bail set at $100,000. Although most married couples probably don't come into their money quite like this, it might be tough for a divorce court to handle the "assets" and "liabilities" in such a situation.