Handyman told to repay mystery £110,000 bank deposit

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander began receiving bank transfers worth up to £110,000. Now, he has to pay it all back. - Credit: SWNS

For most people, waking up with an extra £110,000 in their bank account would be a dream.

However, that very occurence has turned into a nightmare for handyman Russell Alexander.

Mr Alexander, 54 and from Sutton - between Great Yarmouth and Stalham - was surprised when large sums of money - up to £50,000 at a time - started appearing in his account.

The reference on the transfer was "last of mum's".

"I said to the bank, 'I have no idea where this money is coming from, please tell me what I need to do'," he said.

"They back came back to me and said 'it looks like a direct inheritance payment. Spend it as you wish'.

"I spoke to the bank and I asked for their advice and they told me on two occasions that it was my money to keep."

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The handyman used his own money to buy a £237,500 fixer-upper new home in Sutton - expecting to use the windfall to fund the renovations.

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in. - Credit: SWNS

But nine months after the cash started hitting his account, Barclays realised their mistake and took it all back - including an extra £6,000 of Mr Alexander's cash.

The grandfather-of-one, who used to run South House Bed and Breakfast in Clippesby, blames the bank and said he has been left living in a semi-derelict home with no heating, and no funds to renovate it.

Barclays has admitted the money was transferred by another sender in error - and Mr Alexander was "incorrectly advised that he could keep the funds".

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

Without the £110,000 Mr Alexander was told was his, his renovation project has come to a standstill. - Credit: SWNS

Mr Alexander said: "I’m totally outraged at their offer of £500 compensation.

“I’ve been a loyal customer for 40 years and they clearly told me twice the money was mine to spend.

“I planned to renovate the house to rent out rooms on Airbnb, but I'll need to work now to earn the money and it will take years.

“I never would have bought it if I didn’t have the extra money.

“Barclays have stolen my future plans and left me living like a stowaway."

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

Mr Alexander moved into the property in Sutton six months after he began receiving the mystery money. - Credit: SWNS

The timeline of the mysterious event show that Mr Alexander first saw £30,000 land in his account on December 29, 2020.

He messaged Barclays chat on their website twice in December, but got no response, he said.

Another payment of £30,000 and one of £777 landed in his account on January 15, 2021, so he queried them on the phone that month.

He said a few weeks later a bank worker called to say the transfers looked like direct inheritance payments to him, and he could spend it, he claims.

Russell moved into his project house on June 23.

His new home needs rewiring throughout, the heating system and the plumbing needs to be replaced, as do the roof, and foundations, he claims.

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

After beginning renovation work on his new property in Sutton, Mr Alexander only has a confined living space. - Credit: SWNS

Another £50,000 landed in his account in August.

But in September a customer of Mr Alexander's former business rang him up and confessed he had been the one to accidentally give the money to him.

Mr Alexander called Barclays who confirmed they had made a mistake and offered him £500 compensation, he said.

They took the money back from his account on September 29.

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

Mr Alexander had hoped to use the £110k to pay for renovating his new property in Sutton. - Credit: SWNS

He said: “It made no sense to me when the money just arrived, but I checked with the bank twice and with an accountant - they all said spend it.

“I pulled the house to bits and planned to use the money to do it up, but now they’ve taken it back and I have to live in one room of a derelict house.

“I've had sleepless nights over this for weeks.

“I don’t know what the matter is with Barclays. This is no way to run a bank.

“After giving me nine months of false hope their £500 compensation is a total insult.

“It's been sat there nine months and they said if I'd spent it they couldn't do anything, but because I didn't they’ve just taken it back."

Barclay's response

A spokesperson from Barclays said: “We’re sorry to hear about this customer’s experience.

"It is evident that the sender of the funds had selected the incorrect intended recipient from their payee list when completing the online payment instructions.

"There is a verification page displayed to allow the customers to check that the details entered online are valid and correct before proceeding to confirm the payment is to be made.

“Unfortunately, when the recipient sought clarity regarding the unexpected funds being received in his account, he was incorrectly advised that he could keep the funds.

"Subsequently the funds were removed from the account following a claim from the original sender.

“However due to our error an additional £6,000 above the intended sum received was incorrectly removed. This will be returned to our customer together with lost interest."

They urged customers to report unexpected funds immediately, and to regularly delete one-off payees from the app or online banking site.

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

Mr Alexander said he would not have bought the property had he not been told the £110,000 was his to keep. - Credit: SWNS

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

The property Mr Alexander was planning to renovate with the £110,000 is now going to take a lot longer. - Credit: SWNS

The derelict house Mr alexander is living in.

The renovations on Mr Alexander's property are going to have to wait now that he is without the £110,000 he was told was his. - Credit: SWNS

The derelict property Mr Alexander is living in.

The derelict property Mr Alexander purchased is now going to take him much longer than planned. - Credit: SWNS