A Lerwick teenager could have been justified in thinking that Christmas had come early when she checked her bank account – and discovered the balance stood at more than £26,000.
Heather Newell, 15, opened her first bank account at the Santander bank in Lerwick on 23rd September with money given to her by her mother and grandfather.
So it was with more than an element of surprise that she discovered the account had rocketed to be thousands in credit.
Heather’s mother Carina Newell told The Shetland Times: “My father was here on holiday and he and myself had given Heather money to open a bank account. She was very excited, it was her first bank account and she was so happy to have her own bank card and she began to use it in local shops.”
After a few days Heather began to think the money was going further than she had imagined it would, so she went to the bank to check her balance at the ATM in Lerwick.
Heather said: “I asked for a statement and when I checked it I was shocked. It said that I had £26,000 in my account. At first I thought the ATM machine was broken or that I hadn’t used it properly as I was so new to banking and using the machine.”Baffled by her apparent windfall, she contacted her mum for advice.
Carina said: “I was out for the day showing my dad around the island and we were at Staneydale temple on the West Side when I got a rather odd text from Heather saying, ‘Mum please text me, something astounding has happened’.
“I have to admit that I did think it probably wasn’t anything very astounding and just teenage excitement, but I called Heather and when she told me what had happened well yes, I was pretty astounded.
“I told Heather to go into the bank and that I would come to Lerwick and we would try to sort it out.”
Heather calmly went to the bank and began to explain what had happened.
She said: “The lady at the bank wasn’t fazed at all and that was probably a good thing because I felt quite shocked and a bit scared too, but the bank handled it all very calmly.”
Carina added: “When we checked the bank statements it showed that only a few days after opening the account, one sum of £665 had been paid in and then at the end of the month a sum of £26,000 had been deposited from a Tesco bank account.
“It had been done by a quick transfer system that I was not at all familiar with. When myself and my partner went to the bank with Heather we explained that this bank account was just an account for 11-15 year olds and did they not think it unusual that a young person should have so much money in the bank? The bank manager told us that yes it was unusual but not unheard of and so they weren’t particularly perturbed.”
Once the error had been discovered, the bank did investigate. Heather said: “The bank told me that my bank account would be suspended and that it would have to be investigated by their fraud team. I was a bit scared then as I thought I might be in some sort of trouble, but fortunately the bank understood that I had done nothing wrong.
“But I had to fill out lots of forms and the bank had to get my permission to investigate my bank account. It was all a bit strange and I did feel a bit nervous as I don’t know much about handling money, my mum and granddad gave me some money and helped me, but they don’t teach anything about banking at school.”
The matter has now been resolved with the bank waiving a small amount of money that Heather had overspent on her original deposit as a result of the error.