A check was deposited into my account of 2,500$ I didn’t think anything of it and I used the funds now they’re forcing me to pay it back. My name was forged. I was told, the bank it came from had 5 days to notify mine that the check was fraudulent and they didn’t until 10 days. Am I liable? Is there anyway to get around this?

  • 16
    Why didn't you think anything of a random $2,500 being deposited into your account?
    – RonJohn
    Jul 22, 2018 at 7:15
  • 3
    What country are you in
    – Dheer
    Jul 22, 2018 at 10:31
  • 5
    What makes you think your bank account was hacked? You don't need to hack, or even have access to, a bank account in order to deposit money into it. Jul 22, 2018 at 14:11
  • 4
    Writing your name on a document as recipient is NOT FORGING. Please learn the basics how bank accounts work.
    – TomTom
    Jul 23, 2018 at 9:09
  • 1
    The case of Susan Madakor oios.un.org/resources/reports/a55_353.htm is an extreme example...
    – DJohnM
    Jul 23, 2018 at 18:56

3 Answers 3


If you have received funds that don't belong to you; you are to return it. As part of account opening, you are liable to report unrecognized transactions back to the Bank.

There are 2 possibilities;

Genuine Mistake by Sender or Error by Bank

In such cases after the payment has cleared — depending on the instrument used, around few days to few weeks — the Bank can reverse on its own (there will be various guidelines governing this). After this period, the Bank cannot debit your account on its own.
However, this doesn't mean the funds are yours to keep. The sender can go to small claims court and get an order to get the funds back.

Fraudulent Transaction

If this was by fraud, the time limit is quite long and Bank can overdraw your account and make you return the funds. You can also be investigated by law enforcement for any active/passive participation.


Using $2,500 that appeared in your account without explanation is reckless. You know it isn't your money. It is either someone's honest mistake, or some scam going in, in either case it is not your money and you had to expect to be required to pay it back. I know that in the UK what you did would have been theft with a jail sentence.

No, the other bank doesn't have to tell your bank within 5 days that the check was fraudulent. They can tell them within a reasonable time after they find out. Statute of limitations is six years. There have definitely been cases where it took six months or more.

Anyway, you spent $2,500 that wasn't yours, so what else do you expect other than that you have to pay the money back? Apart from you wanting to keep the money, can you think of any sane reason why you should be allowed to keep it?

The correct and safe thing to do if it happens to anybody: Write to the bank that there is $2,500 in your bank account for which you have no explanation. Then don't spend the money, just wait.

  • Can you provide a cite for the statement "would have been theft with a jail sentence". The law as to whether you have to return the money is actually rather complex - if the OP genuinely didn't realize it was a mistake, they may not have to return it. Also, there is no statute of limitation for theft in England and Wales (there is a rule that you can't sue more than 6 years after the cause for action - but that is a different thing). Jul 23, 2018 at 15:11
  • 1
    Even if you think culpability is medium (I can see an argument for "low") sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/… Says that the starting point would be a high level community order - not jail. Jul 23, 2018 at 15:18

For printed checks in the United States, customers have two statement cycles to notify a bank of a fraudulent transaction. This works out to be between 60 and 92 days. The banking system then has ten days to clear the item, so it works out to 103 days.

Your account agreement requires you to maintain a ledger of all transactions. It is not permissible to use the bank's statement as your ledger. Most Americans have stopped using the manual recording of checks and transactions in a paper ledger, or even an electronic ledger. If an item appears that does not agree with your ledger, your obligation is to notify your institution and you may not use the funds. Conversely, if an item clears incorrectly, such as a $5 check for $50 you have two statement cycles to have it fixed. Your bank does not encode the amount of your check, the initial depositing bank does, so they will have to both correct your account and send a correction bank through the banking system to have the depositing bank correct it.

If you accidentally spend funds deposited to your account that is not yours, you bear civil liability to repay it. If you knowingly do so, it may be a felony depending upon your state. You should not post questions like this on the internet as you have given up your right to remain silent by posting it in a public forum. As such, pay it back as expediently as possible so nobody complains.

  • 4
    "Your account agreement requires you to maintain a ledger of all transactions." Citation needed.. On page 40-41, it says I can "keep accurate records of [my] transactions" and on page 42, I agree to "review [my] statements, checks and other items and reconcile them" but it doesn't say anywhere that I must keep a ledger or accurate records.
    – user71659
    Jul 23, 2018 at 0:20

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