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The bill, introduced on Jan. 15, criminalizes the failure to return “erroneous person-to-person electronic payments following proper notification” under the state’s theft law. It would include payment apps like Venmo, Zelle and Cash App.
According to Venmo, if you send money to the wrong person, the funds will be available immediately to the recipient. The company advises users who do so to contact the wrong recipient immediately by sending them a charge request for the same amount of the payment and explaining the mistake in a note.
“If you don’t hear back from them or need help sending a charge request, contact our support team and we’ll do our best to help,” the company wrote online. “While we cannot cancel the payment for you, if you reach out to us, we can provide any available options.”
Theft penalties in New Jersey range from a $1,000 fine to jail time, depending on the severity of the crime.
The sponsor of the bill, Democrat Assemblyman John McKeon, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he introduced the bill after an incident in his county where someone who’d been accidentally sent money “didn’t want to give it back.”
He also said he may amend the bill to include how long a recipient has to return the money before they’re penalized.