Man’s cash paid to complete stranger due to one banking mistake
December 9, 2019

Peter Teich inherited more than $370,000 after his father died – but his windfall turned into a nightmare within hours due to one small error.

Mr Teich, who lives in Cambridge in the UK, was set to receive half of his father’s estate and his sister the second half.

In order to receive the cash, Mr Teich supplied his banking details to his lawyer, who transferred the cash into the siblings’ accounts.

But when Mr Teich’s sister received her share, his had still not arrived – and he soon realised a terrible mistake had been made.

While Mr Teich had provided his correct name, address and account number, he got one digit wrong when typing out the sort code – the UK equivalent of the Australian Bank State Branch (BSB) number.

That wrong number meant the cash was paid into a complete stranger’s account, as that individual happened to have the same account number and also lived in the same area.

Mr Teich contacted his lawyer, who then reached out to Mr Teich’s bank, Barclays, within hours of the typo being made.

Peter Teich spent $88,376 in legal fees to fix his one tiny mistake. Picture: Arthur Rank Hospice CharitySource:Supplied

A bank representative allegedly said the money would be returned within a week – but according to The Guardian, Barclays sent a letter in May claiming nothing could be done as the customer was refusing to return the money.

The letter reportedly said the mistake was caused “due to an error on (Mr Teich’s part)” and that as a result, only a “small token gesture” of £25 ($A48) would be paid.

Mr Teich, who is 74, disabled and a fundraising volunteer at the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, was left to sort the problem out on his own, and he ended up hiring lawyers.

“Barclays insisted that I bear the full and sole responsibility of pursuing their own dishonest customer,” he told The Guardian.

“I freely acknowledge my mistake in this unhappy saga: I provided the sort code of the wrong Barclays branch.

“But my error fades into near insignificance when considered in the context of Barclays’ conduct.”

He ended up paying a total of £46,000 ($A88,376) in legal costs, and after a “stressful” process, the courts ultimately ordered the customer to return Mr Teich’s inheritance.

The bank eventually apologised. Picture: AFP Photo/Carl CourtSource:AFP

But in another twist, Barclays then refused to refund Mr Teich’s legal fees and only agreed to pay up after being contacted by The Guardian.

In a statement, the bank offered “sincere apologies” and acknowledged it had “failed to meet the high standards that Mr Teich can expect to receive from Barclays”.


In the UK, bank customers who mistakenly have cash deposited into their accounts are legally required to return it.

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) MoneySmart website, in most cases, you are entitled to a refund if there is an unauthorised or mistaken transaction on your account.

“If you put in the wrong BSB or account number, or chose the wrong payee, you are likely to get your money back if you contact your account institution within 10 business days, and the money is still in the recipient’s account. Both your and the recipient’s account institution will need to be satisfied that the mistake is genuine,” the website states.

“It will be a slower process if you report the problem after 10 business days, but you should still get your money back if the money is still in the recipient’s account.

“If it is more than seven months, and the money is still in the recipient’s account, then the recipient has to consent to the return of your funds before you can get your money back.”