UK Bank Santander Accidentally Deposits $175 Million to More Than 70,000 Accounts Over Christmas

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
December 31, 2021 Updated: December 31, 2021

UK bank Santander granted tens of thousands of people across the United Kingdom a very merry Christmas this year when they accidentally deposited £130 million ($175 million) into 75,000 accounts on Dec. 25.

The bank, which is headquartered in London, mistakenly sent payments from 2,000 business accounts twice to the more than 70,000 account holders and companies who were in receipt of normal one-off or regular payments.

In a statement to The Times on Thursday, the bank apologized to customers for the blunder, which it blamed on a scheduling issue.

“We’re sorry that due to a technical issue, some payments from our corporate clients were incorrectly duplicated on the recipients’ accounts,” a spokesperson said. “None of our clients were at any point left out of pocket as a result and we will be working hard with many banks across the UK to recover the duplicated transactions over the coming days.”

The bank, which is owned by Spanish bank Banco Santander, said the incident occurred due to a scheduling issue, which was “quickly identified and rectified.”

“The duplicated payments were the result of a scheduling issue, which we quickly identified and rectified. The recipients and purpose of payment will have varied among clients but could have included wages or supplier payments,” the spokesperson said.

Santander’s blunder meant that some people were effectively paid twice from their employer’s account, however, the second payment was reportedly funded by Santander.

According to its website, the bank has 14 million active customers, 5.8 million digital customers, and 616 branches.
Those with accounts at Barclays, HSBC, NatWest, Co-operative Bank, and Virgin Money are among those affected, as per The Times.

Said banks are now reportedly being asked to retrieve the money on behalf of Santander which may not be an easy task, given that some customers likely would have already spent the accidental payment.

A Santander spokesperson told the BBC those banks affected by the incident would “look to recover the money from their customers’ accounts.” Santander also suggested that it may contact people directly in an effort to retrieve the money, as per the BBC.

The Epoch Times has contacted Santander for comment.

Sara Williams of the Debt Camel blog told The Guardian that she fears the mistake may lead to an increase in criminal activity from individuals attempting to scam those affected by the blunder into “returning” the second accidental payment.

“Santander really should publish some details about this, so people know what will happen,” she said. “If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from Santander, I suggest you speak to your bank’s fraud reporting. They may be able to advise whether the contact you have had is genuine.”

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.