Couple Splurges on Lavish Vacation After Bank Mistakenly Deposits Millions Into Account
In April 2009, Hui "Leo" Gao and his then-girlfriend Kara Hurring became a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde after Gao's bank accidentally deposited millions of dollars into his account.
According to the The Mirror, the bank error happened after Gao was approved for nearly $60,000 in overdraft protection for his struggling business account with Westpac Bank.
When the loan officer deposited the funds into Gao's account, they accidentally added in a few additional zeros. The error sent Gao's balance into the millions.
When Gao spotted the error, instead of alerting his bank of the mistake he decided to enjoy the lavish life with his newfound riches, taking his girlfriend on trips, gambling in casinos and enjoying five-star hotels with his new $6 million.
Eventually, Gao began transferring money to accounts in China and Hong Kong to conceal the funds. In total, he moved about $3.5 million before he and his girlfriend fled to China.
When Westpac Bank realized the oversight but could not reach Gao, they launched an international manhunt. As a result, the couple made international headlines and unexpectedly drew some public support for their unique "Robin Hood tale."
A since-deleted Facebook page called "We Support Leo Gao and his 10 Million Dollars - Run Leo Run" was even launched in support of the couple's decision to flee.
After 20 months, authorities finally caught up to Gao and Hurring, shutting down their offshore accounts. As their funds dried up, so did their relationship.
Hurring turned herself into the police and returned home to New Zealand.
Gao, meanwhile, fled to Hong Kong, where he was arrested. He served 16 months in prison before he was released in 2013.
According to The Mirror, during Gao's trial his lawyer Ron Mansfield told the court that the temptation to keep such an enormous amount of money was of Biblical proportions.
"Your Honor, some say the greatest temptation was faced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But these are modern times for a man trying to keep the doors of his small business open [and] £5.13 million placed in his bank account was a very great temptation," Mansfield reportedly said.
The New Zealand couple's story was explored in the 2019 film Runaway Millionaires.