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I have an international wire transfer that needs to be recalled. A month ago, I sent a wire transfer from the US to a Japanese Bank of America branch. It looks like it was supposed to go to a US Bank of America branch instead. Basically, I provided a SWIFT code rather than a routing number. The account number was correct for the intended recipient. That person has told me that they don't have an BoA account at that branch or in that country (but they do have a US BoA account). I started a recall from the sending bank and they've informed me that the receiving bank acknowledged the recall but hasn't provided a status update yet. It's been about a week.
BoA's customer service has repeatedly stated that for wire transfers to be successful, the receiving account number AND account holder name must match the information entered on the wire transfer order. The chance of someone else having that account number and name would be extremely small. Even if the name is disregarded, the account number is 12 digits: it's also very unlikely that another person has that same account number. So, my question is.. what are my chances of getting the money back? I feel like the money must be sitting in a holding account at the receiving bank and they are reluctant to release it because of fraud concerns/regulations.

  • Any guesses about your chances of getting the money back are speculation. It's unlikely this question and its associated answers are really general enough to be widely applicable to subject of personal finance. – Nathan L Jul 7 '17 at 18:33
  • Perhaps someone with intimate knowledge of the banking industry (specifically international) might be able to give an answer that goes beyond speculation given the details I've provided. I don't believe my case is too unusual and it's likely that someone who has sent by wire transfer to the wrong branch/bank could provide a description of their personal experience. – lulz425 Jul 7 '17 at 21:43
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tl;dr: Be patient, money is probably sitting somewhere, and it will eventually be credited back to your account.

I had a similar problem about 10 years ago. I sent an international wire transfer, from my own bank account in Germany to my bank account in Central America. I had done this before, and there had been no issues, but in this case, even though all the information was correct, the bank rejected the wire because it was above $10K, and in that case, the bank needs written proof from the owner of the receiving account (me) , and so didn't know where the funds were coming from.

I had to call the local Sparkasse bank in Germany, as well as an intermediary bank in London to sort it all out, and in total, had to wait about 3-4 weeks to get the money back in my Sparkasse bank account. At one point I thought I may never see that money back, especially since there was an intermediary bank to deal with, but it all worked out in the end.

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Be patient, I think it's virtually guaranteed you'll get your money back. As you said it's probably "sitting" somewhere but it might take a while for the transactions to clear.

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Behind the scenes of banking are a lot of very manual processes especially when something goes wrong. These take extra time not only because it involves people reviewing what went wrong but also because the bank will take extra steps to reduce human error (e.g. technical jargon about maker/checker, dual controls).

Something like this can easily get held up for a month and the best way to jump the queue is to start complaining a lot, calling customer service frequently, asking to talk to management and otherwise pestering the bank until someone senior gets your problem fast-tracked so you stop giving them a headache.

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