This is a very vivid memory from my childhood. My mom and I went to the bank so I could make a transaction. I had received a $100 bill for my birthday and my mom was letting me keep some of it while also putting some away. I handed the teller my bill and a deposit slip that requested $30 back. Because more bills made me feel better about myself back then, I asked for some dollar bills to be included. She handed me my money in an envelope and we went home.
Upon arriving at our house I had discovered that the teller had accidentally given me the $100 bill back. For whatever reason she made a blunder and instead of having $30 I actually had $129. Confusing a single dollar bill for a Benjamin had netted me an extra $99. The minute my mom saw my lucky break she took me right back to the bank and I handed the embarrassed but appreciative young lady back the $100 bill. My mom had taught me a valuable lesson.
This morning before I left for campus I read a story about an 18-year-old male who woke up one day and realized that $30,000 had been deposited into his account. Not questioning where the money came from he went out and spent it. According to the article he purchased a BMW, clothes, and food. He spent pretty much the whole allotment.
Here is what happened…
The kid’s name is Steven Fields. In his town of Madison County, Georgia, there is an elderly man named Steven Fields as well. The two had never met before. The older gentleman went to his bank to deposit $30,000 he had earned from selling land. The bank teller mistakenly put the funds into the account of the young Steven Fields. Suddenly, “Stevie” was one rich teenager. He went out and blew the money.
The snafu was discovered and Stevie was arrested. Recently he was put on probation for ten months and ordered to pay back every cent of the $30,000. Ouch.
I hate riding the fence, but after having it go through my head many times today I don’t know if I agree with the punishment that was levied against the junior Steven Fields. I had a teacher who was fond of saying “Any error goes in your favor” when it came to grading tests. If she didn’t mark us off on something she should have, we still received credit, even if it was discovered just a short time after the fact. That kid never asked for $30,000 to be put into his account. That is a substantial amount of money for most people, let alone someone who is only 18. He took the good fortune he received from the dumb mistake of someone else and enjoyed it. Can I really blame him?
On the other hand, when a pot of gold like that just ends up on your lap you have to question the situation. That cash obviously didn’t just drop out of the sky. Wouldn’t you make a quick call to your bank?
But when pressed to give my true opinion, I would lean to the side that Steven Fields should not have suffered such consequences. I have to say that I think both the probation and the monumental task of paying the $30,000 back is too harsh. He is being penalized for using resources that the bank placed in his own private account. The fault should rest on the shoulders of the teller, not the recipient of seemingly good fortune.
Even though I side with the kid, I would like to think I would notify the appropriate channels if an outrageously large sum of money randomly ended up in my bank account. After all, my mom did teach me the right thing to do many years ago. But then again, you never know until you are tested…