What are my rights if I wrote a check to the wrong vendor and now they are refusing to return the money?

The check was for $ 6500 and the vendor cashed it. I have been unable to get them on the phone or by e-mail. What can I do to get this money back? Is what they did illegal?

Asked on April 6, 2015 under Business Law, Pennsylvania


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the vendor for fraud.  Fraud is both civil and criminal. The civil case (lawsuit) is separate from the criminal case.

Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking) in the civil case for fraud would be $6500 plus punitive damages.  Punitive damages are a substantial additional amount to punish the intentional, wrongful act of the vendor (cashing the check instead of returning it to you).

Another criminal charge to file against the vendor is embezzlement.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

What they did is NOT legal--you can't take someone else's money just because it was sent to you by mistake. You can sue them to recover the money. You should also try contacting the police, but be aware that the police may refuse to help, even though this is a crime (a form of theft)--they may (mistakenly) think this is only a "civil" matter (or a lawsuit) instead of something that is both criminal and civil.

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