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A famous French luxury jewelry store accidentally sent $150,000 to the wrong account. In hopes of recouping the money, they filed a givesies backsies lawsuit.

The luxury jewelry company Van Cleef & Arpels is headquartered in Paris, France, but has a base in Beverly Hills, California, on prominent Rodeo Drive.

The store reportedly transferred $150,000 to an account on May 2, 2023. When the mistake was noticed, Van Cleef & Arpels executives attempted to salvage the lost $150,000 that the billion-dollar company fumbled. Albeit their efforts, the account holders reportedly didn’t respond or return the 150 bands. Therefore, the company decided to make it a legal matter, hoping to get back the several bags they had dropped.

The attempts Van Cleef & Arpels reportedly made are undisclosed, but the plaintiffs’ not knowing the defendants’ identities is another reason the jeweler brought the matter to the court, using Jane and John Does. With the court involved, an in-depth investigation may occur.

After TMZ released the report, commenters argued that the jewelers were at fault for the $150,000 faux pas and that Jane and John Doe should sue the company for stress. Many stated that if it had been their accounts, they wouldn’t have returned the money either.

Legally, could someone keep money accidentally sent to their accounts?

The situation is tricky, considering no laws directly allow a company to automatically regain funds accidentally sent to the wrong account. But there have been incidents where the error-prone company won.

For example, in 2022, a Manhattan court ruled in favor of Citigroup Inc. after it accidentally wired about $500 million to the lenders of the formerly bankrupt beauty brand Revlon Inc. The court ruled it wasn’t appropriate to bestow a “huge windfall” on the lenders by allowing them to keep the bank’s money. Furthermore, the lenders were aware the wiring was a mistake.

Carla Sanchez-Adams, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, did an interview with Marketplace and said how the matter will be handled depends on the payment system used.

Concerning quicker payment systems like Zelle, Sanchez-Adams said, “The law that applies to wire transfer is different than the law that applies in this case to something like Zelle that you get that payment of, hey, that notification of, ‘If you send it, you’re not getting it back,’ is something that is unique to faster payments because the whole premise of faster payments is that they’re irrevocable. So they’re irreversible. Once they’re gone, you can’t claw that money back. However, that doesn’t mean that the money disappears forever and you can’t get it back. There are still protections under the law, under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, that if the transaction was unauthorized or if there was an error, then the bank has to do an investigation and they have to credit your account. And the burden is on them.”

Sanchez-Adams said incidents with big companies and regular individuals could be tricky for the latter because they’re the “little guys” who don’t have the same resources as a big company to assert enough pressure to win the legal fight.

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