Community charity calls in police to help recover £5,000 sent to wrong account

The chief executive of the charity said HSBC had claimed it was not able to help after the money was not returned

HSBC (Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
HSBC (Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A London-based charity had to involve the Metropolitan Police in a banking dispute after an HSBC customer refused to return money he had been sent by mistake.

Theo Gavrielides, chief executive of the community charity Restorative Justice For All, made a typing error when transferring £5,000 from the charity’s current account to its savings accounts in June.

The money was transferred to another customer's account within the same branch in Borough, south London.

After raising the mistake with the bank and making a complaint the charity was told the money would be returned on 15 July, but the date passed and the funds had not been returned.

After making a second complaint, the charity was told by HSBC that there was nothing more it could do, according to Gavrielides.

Gavrielides escalated his complaint to the Metropolitan Police, but said the bank refused to provide him with the details of the HSBC customer, as requested by the police, so the matter could be investigated.

This delayed the case until the middle of October, when the police finally managed to obtain the name of the recipient, who accepted that the funds were not his.

Gavrielides said he was told the customer had given HSBC permission to take the funds from his account, but the bank still did not send it back.

He said he spoke to police about the missing money, but was told HSBC was not co-operating.

Nearly four months after the initial mistake was made, police officers were forced to visit the charity’s HSBC branch, Gavrielides said.

The money was returned to the charity three days later, on 26 October.

The police confirmed that an investigation was concluded at the end of October after the money was returned to charity.

Gavrielides said: “It was very frustrating. It cost me so much in time and resources.

“It was taking me away from my job in supporting young people in the community.

“We have been totally let down by HSBC.

“As a charity, we expected the issue to have been taken even more seriously.”

When typing errors of this type are made the bank will normally contact the receiving provider, or the account holder if they are with the same bank, within two days.

As long as the claim is not disputed, the money should be returned within 20 working days.

After making another formal complaint to the bank the charity received just £30 in compensation.

The incident was referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service at the end of August, but the charity has not yet received a response.

The ombudsman said it was not appropriate to comment on individual cases and it was unable to confirm whether it had received the complaint.

HSBC said: “We cannot comment in detail on complaints that are with the ombudsman.”

The not-for-profit dispute facility the Business Banking Resolution Service recently estimated that about 6,000 UK charities could be eligible for hundreds of thousands of pounds in awards related to unresolved banking disputes.

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