If a bank mistakenly places money into my account and I spend it all, why would I be convicted of theft when I didn’t actually steal anything? Shouldn’t the bank take the fall since it’s their mistake?
No. Go read your account agreement.
While most prosecutors wouldn’t charge you with theft, you’ll need to return the money or you’ll face civil litigation, a judgment against you, and collection efforts to collect on the judgment. You seriously didn’t think the bank gave you a holiday gift did you? No. You don’t think that if the bank makes an error and deposits your paycheck into my account that the bank doesn’t owe you the money—right? Do I get to keep your paycheck? Nope. While you’re at it, read the fine print of the agreement that you signed upon opening your account. I promise you it states that the bank has the right to correct errors and that you agree to return funds that were deposited in error.
After closing on a house, a title company deposited $75,000 into my checking account. I knew the amount was only supposed to be $7,500. I went to the title company, spoke with the closing officer, and she was nearly in tears of gratitude. She and her staff couldn’t reconcile the books and had been “looking everywhere” to find the missing money. I may have saved her job. Besides, eventually they’d have found the error and tracked me down. Just do the right thing.