As digital transactions become the majority of all transactions, from Paypal to Venmo to tap-and-go, so too does the potential for ‘fat fingering’. Maybe the man at the café charged you 45c instead of $4.50 for that coffee, or maybe a friend sent you $100 for dinner instead of $10. What does the law say in regard to this sort of mistake, and do you have to give the money back?

The Honourable Justice Elliot is considering these issues in the case of Foris GFS Australia Pty Ltd v Manivel. An employee of, a cryptocurrency exchange, went to transfer a $100 refund to a customer. Instead of typing in $100 into the “Amount” field, the employee typed in Manivel’s account number 10474143, resulting in an 8-digit windfall for the lucky Manivel. “Extraordinarily”, in the words of Elliot J, this mistake was not realised until 7 months later.

Unfortunately for, Manivel decided to share the money among 6 other people, and generously bought a $1.35m house in Craigieburn for her sister in Malaysia.

Unsurprisingly, the sister became very hard to contact when came asking for its money back. then went off to court to try get its money back. Although Manivel used the money to buy a house and transferred it to her sister, the money is traceable. The money would not have been in her sister’s hands if it had not been accidently made by In this sense, her sister was “unjustly enriched”. therefore is able to get the $1.35m purchase price back from Manivel’s sister, plus penalty interest. The ‘tactic’ of simply not answering the door or picking up the phone when people come asking for their money back doesn’t work.

There are two key takeaways we can glean from this.

The first is that despite all the anti-state, anti-bank marketing, even crypto companies drop the “immutable ledger no takebacks” sales pitch, and run off to court to have a bank help them out.

The second and more important lesson is that just because you handed a small pile of coins to the barista, and they handed you a $10 note back, it doesn’t mean that money is yours. If you get given too much money by mistake, you should give it back. Penalty interest hurts!

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DISCLAIMER The contents of this newsletter are of a general nature and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. However, if you need legal advice please do not hesitate to contact any one of our lawyers.