I spent £30k that was paid into my online share trading account by mistake - and now they want it back

I have a self-select trading ISA with TD Direct Investing. I used it to day-trade heavily on AIM-listed stocks and I used to perform over 30-40 trades in a day.

At its peak,  the value in my ISA rose from £11,500 to £80,000. With the balance at about £60,000 I decided to withdraw £30,000 as I needed to pay for a huge car maintenance bill, a large family holiday and other expenses. I was left with £30k which I thought was my money.

Then TD Direct Investing sent me a letter stating that they had accidentally made some double credits into my account to the tune of over £30,000.

Windfall: Our reader missed £30,000 that was accidentally paid into his account - will he get to keep it?

Windfall: Our reader missed £30,000 that was accidentally paid into his account - will he get to keep it?

This was not spotted by them or myself at the time. It took TD several months to find the error, by which time I had already withdrawn the £30,000.

I didn’t realise at the time that TD had made an error, given the volume of trading I was doing at the time and that my ISA account had gone from £11.5k to almost £80k within a few months.


TD Waterhouse asked for the £30k back immediately. Had I known they had made an error BEFORE I withdrew the money, I would have made an arrangement to pay it back.

I do not see why I should lose my ISA allowance now due to their negligence.

I have not got the funds to pay them back as I have used the money to live on. What are my options? CT, via email.

Ed Monk from This is Money replied: Yours is an interesting take on the 'bank error in your favour' tale. I think most of us know that, contrary to what Monopoly tells us, you don't get to keep money that accidentally finds its way into your account.

The same holds for the £30,000 accidentally paid to you - it wasn't yours and TD have the right to get it back.

However, your case is more complicated than that. You have explained to me that the credits to your account, while they totalled £30,000, arrived in smaller chunks that may have been more difficult to spot.


You argue that, had you known the money in your trading account was not yours, you would not have risked it by investing. You also complain that you have also effectively lost your Isa allowance because the remaining money in the Isa must now be handed back to TD, taking your balance to zero.

You are looking for a solution that eases the burden on paying back the money.

In disputes like this, customers have the opportunity to take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which can produce a quasi-legal decision to settle things.

The FOS looks at each case individually, taking in details from both sides, and it impossible to say for sure how it would rule. However, any decision-maker would ask themselves whether it was reasonable for you to have missed the extra money entering your account.

You have provided some mitigating circumstances, principally that the level and frequency of your trading, with your account balance lurching by tens of thousands of pounds over short periods, disguised the extra money.

This is a fair point, but you should bear in mind that your experience as an investor may also count against you. Would someone so used to trading and dealing online really miss the fact their balance was so much larger than it should have been?

Additionally, it is perhaps an unfortunate coincidence that the withdrawals from your account, which you have explained were not made in one go and which were 'for living on', also totalled £30,000. You explained that you have receipts to show how the money was spent.

In your favour would be that this saga was triggered in the first instance by a whopping mistake by TD. An adjudicator may be reluctant to demand you repay all this money, or at least not right away, given TD had made such an error.

I approached TD Direct Investing about your case. After some discussion it has agreed to allow you to repay the money over a much longer time frame, you have a year to give it back.

This suits you as it allows you to release funds tied up in other interests in a more tax efficient way, and you have accepted the offer.

Darren Hepworth, Customer Services and Global Trading Director, TD Direct Investing, said:  'We pride ourselves on excellent customer service. However on this occasion a manual error resulting in multiple duplicate payments to the account wasn’t picked up by our usual system checks. 

'As soon as the error was identified, we contacted the customer and worked tirelessly to find a solution – we have now reached an agreement for the amounts owed to be repaid over a much-extended period.  We have investigated this thoroughly and have put steps in place to prevent any future similar occurrences.'


I spent £30k that was paid into my online share trading account by mistake - and now they want it back

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