British bank makes $175m in mistaken payments

About 75,000 people received the mistaken
payments, including many customers of rival banks. Santander is seeking help
from the other banks to recoup the money, the bank said in a statement.

The mistaken deposits could look like normal
payments to recipients because they were duplicates of regular and one-off
payments that about 2,000 of the bank’s commercial and corporate customers had
already paid to people, including their suppliers and employees.

Santander said the money for those second
payments did not come from its customers.

“We’re sorry that due to a technical issue,
some payments from our corporate clients were incorrectly duplicated on the
recipients’ accounts,” the bank said. “None of our clients were at any point
left out of pocket as a result, and we will be working hard with many banks
across the UK to recover the duplicated transactions over the coming days.”

People with accounts at dozens of banks,
including Barclays, HSBC and Virgin Money, were among those who received the
erroneous payments, according to The Times of London, which reported on the
mistake Thursday.

Santander UK has asked the banks where people
received the payments to help retrieve the money. Santander UK said it was also
using its own processes for recovering money that was paid in error. It was not
clear how the banks would deal with customers who had already spent the money.

Santander UK, the British arm of Banco
Santander of Spain, has more than 14.4 million customers. The British operation
reported profits of about $929 million (687 million pounds) before taxes in the
third quarter of 2021, up from 151 million pounds in the same period in 2020.

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In May, the bank apologized after a “technical
problem” left some customers unable to use banking services, including making
payments, for several hours.

It is rare for banks to deposit millions in
error, but such mistakes can be the most costly for those who receive the money
by mistake.

In April, a 911 dispatcher was arrested on
fraud and theft charges after she bought a house and an SUV using some of the
$1.2 million that financial services company Charles Schwab had accidentally
deposited in her brokerage account.

In February 2008, two sisters from Blackburn,
England, were jailed after they spent nearly 135,000 pounds that a bank
accidentally deposited in one of their accounts.

©2021 The New York Times Company

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