Sydney woman becomes $24M richer overnight after NAB bank gaffe

By @chelean on
Australia dollar
A handful of Australian one dollar coins is shown in Sydney, February 18, 2004. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

A Sydney lawyer was mistakenly transferred $24.5 million overnight, but her bank initially wouldn’t do anything about it. Clare Wainwright said she discovered she was an accidental multimillionaire on Thursday when National Australia Bank paid out her mortgage and gave her the millions to redraw.

Wainwright told AAP she was shocked to see that not only did NAB pay out her mortgage, it also gave her extra change to the tune of $24,544,780.16. The error stemmed from a letter sent by NAB in September to her, confirming a direct debit for loan repayments.

Wainwright was told in the letter that her monthly repayments would be $25,102,107 instead of the correct figure of $2,500. Her next due was on Oct. 25. NAB then requested $25.1 million from Wainwright’s bank, St George Bank, which transferred the millions.

The young lawyer was shocked to see the amount deposited in her account but also knew that it was an error. She contacted her mortgage broker, who contacted NAB about the mistake. The customer service said they would just contact her in three days.

“I got in touch with my broker and he said, ‘I’m sure it was a typo. I’ll get in contact with them,’ but obviously the mistake was never fixed,” she told AAP. The multimillion-dollar gaffe has since been fixed.

On Friday, her bank balance was back to normal. But despite becoming a millionaire for one day, Wainwright said she wasn’t even tempted to touch the money.

“I’m a lawyer, which is why I haven’t spent the money,” she told Fairfax Media. “Mostly because I figured it wouldn’t play out that well trying to play dumb on that.”

But if she had $25 million to spare, Wainwright has plans on how to use it. “Well, if I was allowed to use it, I’d pay off my mortgage and buy another place. Or an island.”

Wainwright made a smart decision of reporting the error and not touching the money. A Sydney student did not do the same thing when she received an overdraft of $4.6 million from 2014 to 2015, though.

Christine Jia Xin Lee was arrested last year just as she was trying to board a flight home to Malaysia. It was revealed that instead of reporting the error to her bank, she spent the money on designer clothes, bags and accessories. Westpac had pursued Lee through the NSW Supreme and Federal Circuit courts, and she was put on an airport watch list. She claimed that she thought the money was deposited by her wealthy parents in Malaysia.

Join the Discussion