Cincinnati couple James and Elfie Lyons shared a sudden windfall of over $200,000, some of it in God's name, with friends and certain organizations, only to wind up being indicted for giving away money that was not theirs.
This all happened when James and Elfie, 86 and 76 respectively, suddenly realized that their bank account showed a hefty increase of $220,039.37. The couple apparently then applied the ethos of 2 Corinthians 9:7, which reads: "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
The couple wrote checks to people as well as organizations and frequently extended their kindness with spiritual messages, such as "God Bless," "Money Cometh" and "Love Gift," according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The stark reality of life would soon intrude on the couple's altruism, for the money was not theirs to give.
According to prosecutor Joe Deters, "I believe that God has many plans for many people, but I don't believe stealing $220,039.37 is one of God's plans."
The couple reportedly gave away $60,000, but also treated themselves to the sudden bounty by purchasing a $22,000 car and withdrawing $88,000 for mortgage payments.
The sudden fattening of their bank account was due to the accidental transfer of funds from a local real estate title company named Benchmark Escrow and Title.
The company transferred money from a home refinancing, but unfortunately used the wrong routing number in the transaction. The Lyons, who owned the incorrectly used routing number, then found themselves with an unintended windfall.
Once the error was discovered, the account was frozen with $54,000 remaining.
The Lyons' story is certainly not unique.
According to the Guardian, in 2009 a New Zealand couple was the mistaken recipients of a deposit of roughly $6 million to their bank account. The couple immediately fled with a portion of the money.
The Lyons were indicted for theft and for the unauthorized use of property. If convicted, the couple could end up serving a maximum of six years in prison.