Help! My mom sent $1,450 to a stranger on Chase QuickPay by mistake!

This mom made a big mistake with Chase QuickPay. She send a stranger some cash! John Galbraith, author.

Yunnie Son’s mom accidentally sent $1,450 via Chase QuickPay to a stranger and can’t get it back. Can the Elliott Advocacy team fix this problem?


My mother tried to transfer $1,450 from her Chase account to me through Chase QuickPay using my cell phone number. The money left my mother’s account, but I was never informed of any transfer.

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My mother double-checked and confirmed that she correctly entered my cell phone number. Chase is now saying that my mother’s money was transferred to a stranger, and they cannot retrieve the funds because that account has insufficient funds.

My mother filed two claims with Chase, but Chase still refuses to reverse the transaction. The only next step I can think of is to file a small claims court case. Or can you help? — Yunnie Son, Los Angeles


What a mess! It shouldn’t be so easy to accidentally send $1,450 to a total stranger. And then to find out Chase can’t help retrieve the money — that doesn’t sound consumer-friendly.

Your mother wanted to send some money to you and decided to try the Chase QuickPay service (*Update in 2020 this service is called Chase QuickPay with Zelle). This feature allows the user to send money to anyone with a U.S. bank account using either an email address or, as your mother tried to do, a cell number.

When the money didn’t show up in your account as expected, you knew something was wrong.

By the time you reached us you had been unsuccessfully trying to retrieve your mom’s money for some time. Your paper trail showed a frustrating dead end with Chase. The representatives told you that your mother had completed a transfer to a Wells Fargo account.

This was a problem since you don’t have a Wells Fargo account.

Chase was not helpful to you, and its responses were confusing, to say the least. The representatives initially told you — not once, but twice — that they would not reverse the transaction. Then they told you they could not retrieve the funds because the account had insufficient funds and to contact Wells Fargo.

Be careful when you use Chase QuickPay

I would have been puzzled by this confusing message, as well. And I’m not surprised you turned to us for help. We told you to follow the advice Chase gave and contact Wells Fargo again, but before you did this you realized your mother had entered the wrong cell number.

A simple error — but a big oops!

The question that sprang to my mind is: Why was Chase unable — or unwilling — to help you?

Was this Chase’s fault? Not in any way. Did your mother’s mistake cause the issue? Absolutely. Does that mean that Chase was right not to provide any help? No.

Chase could have helped you despite the fact that it was not at fault and not required to help.

Chase could have tried to help you by contacting Wells Fargo and making a formal request for the money. While it was not their mistake, they could have shown that they value your mom as a customer. Good customer service is in part about going above and beyond; not just doing the bare minimum.

The happy ending for your Chase QuickPay fiasco

Even a quick phone call from Chase to Wells Fargo would have been helpful. But my experience is that even in scam/fraud cases banks are slow to help. They often cite privacy/data protection laws, when often the law does allow them to help in such cases.

You could have used the Elliott Advocacy research team’s company contacts to try to reach someone at Chase who was willing to help you. But you had another idea and went straight to where your mother’s money went.

You managed to contact the person who had received the money in error. They were honest and returned it to you.

This time there was a happy ending, thanks to you doing all the hard work, but others may not be so lucky. Services such as QuickPay are making it easier and easier to make quick payments, but it’s imperative to make sure that you are sending your payments to the correct person. This shows you can’t “bank” on your bank to help.


31 thoughts on “Help! My mom sent $1,450 to a stranger on Chase QuickPay by mistake!

  1. It’s time to get the same kind of protections for other electronic transfers we have for conventional credit cards.

    1. An electronic transfer is not like a credit card purchase. If you wired money to someones account you don’t have the same protection as a credit purchase. If you fat finger the wrong number when sending money, that is not the fault of the bank, it’s your fault.

      The person who received it should have done the right thing and contacted Mom, since he would have had the information on who sent it, and asked what the money was for. Luckily he gave it back and I bet he was just sitting waiting to see if anyone claimed it. Rather than try to be prosecuted against, he was smart to return it.

      1. It would be nice to know the timing. I haven’t checked my main bank account in several days and my wife often doesn’t check hers until the statement arrives (and even then not always!). So the person who received it might not have noticed the extra money in their account, rather than being nefarious. This is probably more likely the shorter the time frame was.

        1. Could it be like Chase stated: “Chase is now saying that my mother’s money was transferred to a stranger, and they cannot retrieve the funds because that account has insufficient funds.” There was insufficient funds in the account it went to.
          So, the person who owns the Wells Fargo account obviously took at least part of the transferred money out.

        2. How can people not know what is happening with their accounts when bank alerts are easily set up to alert someone of any activity, of any kind, right away – for deposits, withdrawals, charges, etc – I can’t imagine anyone not protecting themselves with these valuable tools in these times with so much internet/bank fraud occurring.

          It is how I found out immediately that a credit card of mine had been stolen (or cloned) in Italy – and months later, used in San Francisco (I know the theft took place in Italy as it was the one and only time I ever used that card) – I got the alert and called my bank immediately and while we were talking on the phone, another charge was attempted on the card and the bank was able to stop it cold.

          1. I agree. However, if one did a comprehensive study on people with accounts, I believe it would probably show that many, many, if not the majority don’t have alerts set up on their accounts. Hard to believe in today’s world. Many people do not worry about such things until something happens to them and then it is too late.

        3. They said there wasn’t enough money in the account to recall the transfer. So he took $1400 out of his account unwittingly? Sorry, not buying it.

          1. You are probably right, but if it is a poor student or something, who only had $200 in the account, paid a bill and took out $100 and wasn’t careful (and payday loans prove every minute that people are careless), it is certainly possible. In the absence of evidence, I prefer to judge others favorably.

  2. I do this with my bank account to someone who acts as my assistant occasionally. When we set it up it had to be done on line and we were both sent verification texts and emails before I was allowed to send money. Not Chase but another major bank. Took a couple extra steps to set up, but has served us well.

  3. Just commenting to confirm that the Chase QuickPay and clearXchange transfers are an absolute disaster. Avoid them at all costs.

    1. Can you elaborate why you feel that way? I have been using both to receive and to pay without issues. Just wondering if there’s something I need to be made aware of.

      1. This past fall, Chase rolled out clearXchange for transfers to non-Chase accounts without notifying its members. Also, I’d created a clearXchange account 10+ years (and a different bank) ago. When my brother sent money to me using clearXchange, I was only allowed to “accept” it by transferring the money to a bank I no longer have a business relationship with (you cannot update bank info if you have a pending payment). Ultimately, I was delayed in receiving my transfer by 3 or 4 weeks because I had to wait for my old bank to return the funds, for Chase to process that return, and for my brother to resend it to me.

        A Venmo or Facebook payment would have completed in two days.

          1. Drastically changing a payment system with no notification? Nope.

            My brother was following the same process he always had; we had no knowledge that clearXchange was being used until the payment was in flight.

        1. I had the same experience a week ago when a friend tried to transfer money to me for a vacation expense. I was REALLY suspicious of all the information they wanted because my bank wasn’t on their “network” so I refused it and my friend sent me a check. There’s no way I would have accepted the money with all those convoluted requirements.

  4. The OP is very very very very very very lucky that the recipient returned the funds. Other than holding the money is escrow for a set period of time (ie 24 hours), I don’t see how the bank can offer protection if the recipient information was made in error. We had to make an electronic transfer earlier this year, and the bank made us triple check the information to ensure that we had the correct recipient. The bank made it VERY CLEAR that they are not liable for transfers made and that funds could not be reversed.

  5. Mobile phone numbers change all the time. I have, since the dawn of electronic transfers, sent a $10 test payment to ensure it is all working. I recommend everyone else do the same. Good that the person was honest in this case, but with increased ease comes increased risk.

    In Canada you have to also answer a specific question that the user has to create for each recipient and is supposed to tell them separately (not as part of the transaction) which would, of course, prevent this sort of thing….in the USA, you just send it and it automatically deposits. Less effort, but far more risky.

  6. From time immemorial banks have been able to claw back money when it has been sent/paid to the wrong account so why could they not help in this case?
    MId-80’s I used to telephone transfer funds (spoke to an actual local bank employee to accomplish this way back then!) from my employers business savings account to the business checking account regularly to pay current bills. One time my employer got an overdrawn notice and I was in all kinds of hot water for not making the transfer! After a little checking on the transfer that I knew I had made, it turned out the bank had used our telephone number instead of our back account number to transfer the money. Telephone number was an actual checking account number and the money was sitting there.
    Point being — it was deemed a mistaken deposit and reversed. They CAN do it.

    1. that is a different scenario altogether – this is one bank sending to another – and when the 2nd bank receives it, how is the first supposed to collect from a bank NOT in their network?

  7. Seems like it’s way too easy to make a mistake. I’m not familiar with the system, but do they ask for any type of confirmation? An “are you sure” popup may seem annoying, but it can save you a lot of grief.

    1. Agreed. It seems like there should be an easy way to require verification. Even a simple “are you sure you want to transfer money to xxx-xxx-xxxx with an account at Z Bank?” would help. Having the system do a reverse lookup on destination cell number may also be helpful (though I’m not sure how well that works).

  8. This is what happens when people can’t seem to do the simplest things in life without their cellphones. Just have her write a check and send it to you……all of this could have been avoided.

  9. Quick-anything can be a recipe for disaster. Too easy to make an error, almost impossible to reverse. I’ll stick with slower but safer.

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