Everyone fantasizes at one point or another about what they’d do if they suddenly came into a pile of cash.

Well, one British worker got to live out his fantasy, when a clerical mistake resulted in his employer overpaying him to the tune of £40,000. (For reference, that’s about $51,800.)  He did not waste his opportunity to live the life, as reported by the Mirror:

Steven Burke blew £28,000 on a new car, cocaine , booze and hotels after the costly blunder by his company.

He was expecting a pay check of £446.60 – but couldn’t believe his luck when a massive £44,660 dropped into his bank account instead.

A court heard the company director put his decimal point in the wrong place.

But instead of letting them know, Burke filled his boots with designers clothes and online gambling.

He told a court he thought he had been a lucky victim of ‘cyber crime’.

Steven, that’s not really how “cyber crime” works. It’s also not how being a victim works, either. See, while possession may indeed by 9/10ths of the law, that final tenth can really bite you. There are various laws (both in the US and the UK) that make it quite illegal to abscond with money you were mistakenly transferred or gifted. In the United Kingdom, that’s the 1968 Theft Act:

Keeping any money wrongly credited to your account could lead to you being charged with ‘Retaining wrongful credit’. The 1968 Theft act defines this as: “A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it”.

It goes on to say that: “A person is guilty of an offence if:

1. a wrongful credit has been made to an account kept by him or in respect of which he has any right or interest;

2. he knows or believes that the credit is wrongful; and he dishonestly fails to take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to secure that the credit is cancelled.”

Now, the easy way around this is to just pay back the funds, which wouldn’t have been a big deal unless, of course, you go on a spending spree. Hopefully things work out for Steven in the end, and it’s a good reminder that you should always do the right thing. And that life doesn’t work like Monopoly, at least not in the fun ways.


About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.