When an unexplained $10,000 showed up recently in a Columbus couple’s banking account, they went right to work trying to solve the mystery.

It wasn’t an anonymous gift; Andy Watkins was sure of that.

“There’s no one I know that would deposit that kind of money into my account,” said Watkins, a manager at automotive supplier Capco, 1349 Arcadia Drive.

His fiance, Kimberly Redmon, who works in the quality department at Capco, was equally stumped.

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She’s the one who discovered the deposit in their joint account after checking Jan. 26 to see whether their paychecks had been deposited, text-messaging Watkins with her revelation.

In his initial steps to sort out the mystery, Watkins approached an executive at Capco, asking whether he might have received a work bonus, before sharing details about the banking deposit. But that inquiry didn’t shed any more light into the mystery.

“We weren’t expecting this money at all,” said Watkins, a Columbus native who moved away in 1994 to join the military and returned to his hometown in 2008. “We knew something was wrong.”

Watkins said he initially thought it might be a scam and contacted Columbus-based Centra Credit Union, where they have the joint account, to ask questions about the transaction.

The next morning, Watkins said he received a phone call from a teller at a Centra Credit Union location in Shelbyville, where the deposit transaction had taken place.

The $10,000 had been deposited Jan. 26 by an elderly woman with the same first and last name as his fiance, Watkins said he was told. According to the teller, the woman had recently lost her husband and did not use a deposit slip or bank account number when making the transaction, he said.

Because of privacy policies, a Centra representative said she could not confirm or deny the story.

“Any transaction on a member’s account, we would not talk about with the media,” said Christina Bailey, assistant vice president of marketing for Centra Credit Union.

Almost as fast as the $10,000 appeared in their account, it was gone again as the Shelbyville teller transferred the money to the rightful owner — thanking the couple for their honesty in clearing up the mystery and correcting the mistake.

Keeping quiet and keeping the money never crossed his mind, Watkins said.

Acting honestly and quickly is best, he said.

The longer a person waits in such a situation, the longer they might question what they should do, he said.

“Money can add stress, even if it’s to your benefit,” Watkins said. “Maybe this situation prevents me from making the same mistake.”

His philosophy didn’t stop a few friends and family members from playfully suggesting what the couple might consider doing with such a windfall.

Las Vegas, anyone?

Watkins, who has tried — without success — to track down the other Kimberly Redmon, said he wondered if the money may have been to pay for her late husband’s funeral expenses.

“This could’ve worked out so many different ways. I wouldn’t want to be in her situation,” he said. “I was just really glad she got her money back. At this point, I don’t even know that she knows it even happened.”

How to bank safely online

What to do:

  • Report any suspicious account activity to your bank
  • If your smartphone or desktop is set to remember your account passwords, make sure your device is password-protected or otherwise secured in case it is lost or stolen
  • Set up automatic notifications with your bank to ensure you will be notified when large transactions are processed on your account or it’s accessed from a new location

What not to do:

  • Follow links to access your accounts through email or disclose passwords or login information through email
  • Disclose personal information on social media such as birthdays, maiden names, school names, hometowns or other information. This information can be used by a hacker to answer forgotten password questions
  • Access your account via public Wi-Fi

Source: Nationwide Insurance

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com