Couple must return $120,000 after bank error prompted spending spree

Edward Helmore
Photograph: Steve Helber/AP

A Pennsylvania couple who went on a giddy spending spree after a bank accidentally deposited $120,000 into their account are now regretting their spendthrift ways after going to trial on theft charges.

“It probably wasn’t the best thing in the end,” Robert Williams told local station WNEP-TV, explaining that they “took some bad legal advice” on the issue.

Over a two-and-a-half-week period in June, Williams and his wife, Tiffany, who carried a balance of $1,121 before the error, withdrew more than $100,000 of the surprise deposit, using it to make a down payment on a Chevrolet SUV.

The couple also bought a camper, a car trailer, a race car and two four-wheelers, as well as using it to pay bills and to support needy friends to the tune of $15,000.

It took three weeks for the bank, a branch of BB&T, to notice the error by which time about $13,000 was left. The bank told the couple they were responsible for the return of the money.

Tiffany Williams, 35, told bank officials “she would speak to her husband and attempt to construct a repayment agreement”, state trooper Aaron Brown told the Montoursville Sun-Gazette.

In separate interviews with investigators in late July, both Robert Williams, 36, and his wife “admitted to knowing the mislaid money did not belong to them, but they spent it anyway”.

The couple then stopped communicating further with the bank and were later arraigned on felony charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

The couple’s neighbors offered little sympathy. “I would check in with the bank first before I did anything,” offered Robert Painton, according to local television. “I’m not that dumb but some people do stupid things sometimes.”