What would you do?

I have a moral dilemma and need help or advice.

A large sum of money appeared in my brokerage account out of nowhere over a week ago. The sum is a good 5 figures. It is not mine. I have said and done nothing and received no word from the company.

What are the legal implications if I were to withdraw it?

What if I used the money as leverage to trade and benefited from it but were still able to pay it back later, could I keep any gains?

I know what I SHOULD do (and likely will), but what would you do?

And what if this were an IRS mistake and not a broker would your answer be the same?

I would consult a good lawyer to find out what my rights are. If there is a possibility that I can keep it, I would definitely try that. If you make a mistake then your broker has probably no mercy on you, so why would you have mercy on their mistakes? However, this outcome is quite unlikely imho. Unless a lawyer tells you otherwise, I would expect that at some time someone will discover it, and that you will be obligated to pay it back with interest. I would certainly not trade with it.

Also, find out if you have right on a legal portion of the amount if you point out the mistake voluntarily. My personal morale would say that you have right on 10% if you are the one who discovers the mistake, but 0% if you try to hide it and the other one discovers it first.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

What if I used the money as leverage to trade and benefited from it but were still able to pay it back later, could I keep any gains?

What if you lost all the money?

What is the name of the brokerage firm? I’d like to open an account :slight_smile:

Mistake or not you are likely liable for it. Most likely, sooner or

later, they will come after you for it.

You must alert the broker of their mistake. Being aware of the mistake, and not alerting them, is legally equivalent to theft.

But let’s put aside the legal and ethical issues, and just deal with expedience. The fact is that the broker will soon discover their mistake. In modern corporations, particularly ones as regulated as brokers, money can’t simply disappear. When a company finds out that the books don’t balance, they will figure it out. Probably much sooner than later.

According to the district attorney’s office in Walworth County, Wis., a man was charged with theft when a check for more than $49,000 was accidentally deposited into his account at Fifth Third Bank. “He was having financial difficulties so he spent it,” Walworth County district attorney Phillip Koss says. "When the bank asked for it back, he put them off. But when he was charged with theft he came up with the money."

Besides having to cough up the misappropriated funds, he also paid a $500 fine.