Company Accidentally Transfers $10.5M to Woman and Doesn't Notice for Seven Months. Here's What Happened Next.
It was supposed to be a simple $100 refund.
Instead of processing a simple $100 refund, the cryptocurrency company Crypto.com accidentally transferred $10.5 million to an Australian woman—and they didn't notice the mistake for seven months. Crypto.com discovered they had mistakenly sent millions to Australian woman Thevamanogari Manivel in December 2021. The company that once famously hired Matt Damon to their "Fortune Favors the Brave!" commercial has since tried to get the money back, but that pursuit has not gone smoothly. Read on to find out more, including how the mistake happened and where the money is now.
Data-Entry Goof Is a Costly Mistake
According to the Guardian, Crypto.com (known as Foris GFS in Australia) paid out the $10.5 million instead of $100 because Manivel's account number was accidentally entered into the payment amount field. Manivel, 40, didn't notify the company of the error. When the company discovered the mistake in December 2021, they began an investigation, and in February 2022, a court froze Manivel's bank account. But what they discovered was that Manivel had already spent the money. She and her partner, Jatinder Singh, 37, were arrested in March 2022. Both face up to 20 years in prison.
$2 Million Is Missing
In an October 2022 court appearance, a police investigator said that Manivel—a Malaysian citizen who was in Australia on a student visa—had been apprehended at Melbourne Airport. She was carrying several pieces of luggage, wads of cash, and a one-way ticket to Malaysia, the Daily Mail reported.
She had previously transferred $4 million to a HSBC bank account in Malaysia—$2 million of which was later returned—but another $2 million was quickly transferred to unknown accounts and remains missing, the detective said.
Houses, Luxury Car, Cash Gifts
Police said $8 million had been transferred from her bank account between December 2021 and February 2022, and Manivel had bought four houses with the accidental windfall. Prosecutors allege that $1.35 million was used to buy a four-bedroom luxury home in Craigieburn in February, and the ownership of the property was transferred to Manivel's sister. A $56,000 deposit went to another house, the Daily Mail reported.
Police allege Manivel also gave her three daughters lavish cash gifts—they allegedly received $500,000, $430,000, and $200,000, respectively. Another $70,000 went toward buying her daughter a car, and $1.2 million was apparently used to pay off the mortgage on a friend's property. On top of that, authorities say Manivel and her partner spent money on furniture, art, and other luxury items.
Couple Believed Money Was Theirs, Lawyers Claim
Last October, the court heard that Singh told police he believed he had won the money in a Crypto.com contest, and defense lawyers argued that Manivel was led to believe the money was hers to spend. "The whole issue in relation to Ms. Manivel is the dishonesty element—whether she knew that the money was stolen or not," her defense lawyer said. Representatives from Commonwealth Bank testified that Manivel was told the money was transferred by mistake. Manivel's sister was ordered to sell her ill-gotten house immediately and give Crypto.com the proceeds.
Trials to Begin Soon
Manivel and Singh have both pleaded not guilty to theft, and Ms. Manivel also pleaded not guilty to a count of negligently dealing with the proceeds of crime. The couple's trials are slated to begin this month.