Santander sent $175 million for Christmas over technical error

A general view of Santander’s headquarters on May 18, 2012 in London, England. Photo: Dan Kitwood (Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of people in the UK probably thought they had been particularly good last year when they saw their bank accounts on Christmas Day, all of which had more money than they expected. Unfortunately, Santa doesn’t have enough money in his reserves to justify the approximately $176 million in payments, but European bank Santander does, and would like his money back, please.

In recent days, it has come to light that due to a “technical problem” Santander UK sent millions on December 25 to around 75,000 people and businesses that should not have received the money. First reported by the London times, the payments were sent to individuals who had already been paid by one of the 2,000 companies with accounts with Santander.

The bank essentially paid these people a second time, although the money for the extra payment came from its own treasury. That must hurt, but it’s probably a lot less painful than the wrath of 2,000 customers if the situation is reversed.

According to the New York Times, many of the 75,000 people who received the payments were customers of rival banks, including Barclays, HSBC and Virgin Money. In a statement to the outlet, Santander UK apologized for the mistake and said it would work with its rivals to get the money back. It will also use its own processes in the operation, but did not specify which ones they were.

“We are sorry that due to a technical issue, some payments from our corporate customers have been incorrectly duplicated on recipients’ accounts,” the bank told the Times. “None of our customers have been left out at any point as a result and we will be working hard over the next few days with many banks in the UK to get the duplicate transactions back.”

Gizmodo reached out to Santander UK on Saturday to find out more about the technical error that occurred and what to do in response to consumers who have received the wrong payment. We haven’t heard anything yet, but we’ll update this article when we do.

Even though it was the bank’s fault, the people who received the money could get in most of the trouble, especially if they spend it. (Maybe I’ve seen too many dramas, but spending money that mysteriously ends up in your account sounds like a recipe for disaster).

take the cautionary tale of Kelyn Spadoni, a 911 dispatcher in Louisiana who accidentally received $1.2 million from her brokerage firm Charles Schwab in early 2021. In fact, the company originally planned to deposit just $82.56 into its Fidelity account. Spadoni bought a car and a house within a day of getting the money, and Charles Schwab refused to answer when he contacted her asking for the money.

Last year, Spadoni was arrested for theft, fraud and illegal money transfers. In the end, Charles Schwab was able to get about 75% of the money back, but it’s not clear what happened to the rest.

Folks, we’ve got too many problems already, so let’s do ourselves a favor in 2022: don’t spend money unless you’ve signed up for it and know where it’s coming from.

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