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NZ couple on the lam after Westpac mistakenly gives them NZ$10m

21 May 2009  |  6626 views  |  1 20 pound note

New Zealand police and Interpol are hunting a couple who are believed to have fled the country after Westpac mistakenly deposited NZ$10 million into their bank account.

The unnamed couple - who reportedly ran a petrol station in the North Island city of Rotorua - applied to the bank for a NZ$10,000 overdraft but received 1000 times that amount.

The couple are understood to have withdrawn a chunk of the money before going on the run. Police say Westpac recovered the remainder.

Detective senior sergeant David Harvey refused to reveal how much money the couple have stolen or where they may have fled to.

"The individuals associated with this account are believed to have left New Zealand and Police were working through Interpol to locate those individuals," says Harvey.

The bank says the mistake was the result of human error and not a systems problem. It is pursuing criminal and civil action to recover the money and reviewing procedures.

Earlier this year a Pennsylvania couple withdrew more than $175,000 that had been mistakenly placed in their account after a bank error.

Randy Pratt, 50, and wife Melissa, 36, withdrew the money, quit their jobs and ran off to Florida before being caught. Randy said he thought the money was "a gift from God".

Update

Westpac says the account holder tried to transfer about NZ$6.7 million out of the account but NZ$2.8 million was recovered, leaving the thieves with NZ$3.8 million.

Meanwhile, police say "two individuals of interest to the inquiry have left New Zealand and are believed to have travelled to Hong Kong. Enquiries to locate those individuals are continuing through Interpol in Hong Kong and official channels in Beijing."

KeywordsLEGALPEOPLE

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 22 May, 2009, 09:54

It is funny, but here, in Central-Europe, people would love this story, and even support the couple on the run.

Seriously, banks don't have a good image anymore, especially these days, when the mortgages are hardly payable by the poor people. Some says that the 'evil' banks are taking their money.

And this story, they would call a revenge.

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