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Your Take: What Would You Do With a $7 Million Bank Error?

Sometimes I read news stories and wondering – what were they thinking?

Hui “Leo” Gao was your average gas station owner in New Zealand. He applied for a line of credit at his bank (Westpac) and instead of getting access to NZ$100,000, he was given access to NZ$10,000,000 [3] – or about seven million bucks USD. The bank didn’t realize its mistake until Gao withdrew $6.8 million from the account over the span of a month and deposited it to banks in Hong Kong and China. Then he fled. His girlfriend, Hurring, went with him and they took their six year old daughter. Hurring was caught two years later when she returned to New Zealand to renew her daughter’s passport. Gao was arrested in Hong Kong and extradited to New Zealand. Westpac recovered $2.9 million but $3.8 million is still outstanding.

We all know that bank errors in real life [4] are not like bank errors in Monopoly. You don’t get to keep the cash. I suppose Gao saw the millions and decided that taking the cash and running was worth risking the inevitable jail time when he got caught. What blows my mind is that Hurring decided to return to New Zealand to renew a passport… and that’s how she got nabbed.


Then I wonder… what would I do if $7 million just appeared in my account? What would you do?