Yanlin runs a landscaping business and as part of a large project she was working on, ordered a large sculpture from China at a cost of $6000. The company she bought the sculpture from requested that payment be made through a popular international money transfer company.
Yanlin transferred $6000 using the transfer company’s website. A few days later, the sculpture company in China emailed Yanlin to tell her that they hadn’t received the money and they would not be sending her the sculpture. Yanlin logged back into her account and checked the company’s bank details with the ones she had given the transfer company – they were different.
Yanlin had inadvertently sent $6000 to the wrong bank account. She got one digit wrong in the account number and slightly misspelled the company name when making the transfer.
Upon realising her error, Yanlin immediately contacted the transfer company and requested they recall the funds. Unfortunately for Yanlin, the transfer had already been made. The $6000 had been deposited into the incorrect bank account
The transfer company told Yanlin that they had tried to unsuccessfully claw back the money, and they had exhausted everything they could do to retrieve the money. They told Yanlin that the only option for her was to contact the receiving bank in China and ask them for the money.
Yanlin complained and asked FSCL to investigate whether the transfer company had done everything in their power to retrieve her money.
As a general rule, banks can only reverse a payment made in error with the consent of the person who received it. This usually involves the recipient’s bank (in this case the bank in China) contacting the account holder to ask for their permission to reverse the transaction. If the recipient refuses, the only option is to take up the matter directly with the recipient. However, the bank’s responsibility to protect the privacy of the recipient’s contact details is likely to prevent the bank from releasing any details about their customer (the recipient).
We advised Yanlin that the transfer company had done everything in their power to retrieve her money, but as the money had been deposited into a valid account, they were unable to take the money back out.
Insights for consumers
It is very important that when transferring money, either through a bank or transfer company, the correct account number and account name are entered. It is very difficult to get the money back if the money has been deposited into an incorrect bank account.