My question involves personal finance in the State of:
Maine (but also an international question)
I am from the UK, my wife is from Maine, USA. We have a joint bank account in Maine that we both use, but I am not, nor have ever been, a US resident. I don't even have a US tax ID number (we are recently married and have never spent any time together in the US, apart from getting married there) - not sure if I need one yet but that is an issue for another time and place. We are currently living in Japan for a year.
What happened (apologies if this is a long story, but I want to describe all the important details):
I recently sent an Argentinian "friend" of mine an international money transfer for a few thousand dollars, to repay some money that person had loaned me several years ago when I was living in Argentina. I say "friend" because we used to be friends, but we have something of a strained/non relationship these days.
I sent the money via the website of an international money transfer company (based in the US, I believe in California), funded by my savings in my joint bank account in Maine. The money was sent to one of the money transfer company's pick-up locations in Chile, because my "friend" was on vacation there, and you can receive dollars cash (what I was originally loaned by my friend) in Chile, whereas you no longer can in Argentina due to currency exchange restrictions.
After I had initiated and paid for the transfer (money debited from my bank account), it was then cancelled without explanation by the money transfer company. I emailed to ask why and got no response. I called and they were useless and disorganized, and eventually confirmed during the call that it had been cancelled, and that they would be refunding me in full to my bank account very soon, and would also email to confirm the reason for the transfer cancellation.
Given this, I then found another international money transfer company and sent the money to my friend in Chile that way.
The next day, I get an automated email confirmation from the 1st company to say that the money had been picked in Chile up by my "friend". That's weird, I thought. Perhaps they had a change of heart and decided to let the transfer go through? So I look at my online banking, and they have also refunded me in full, on that same day.
Back to my email I go and I see another automated email confirmation from the 2nd company that the money had been picked up. This is the one that I was expecting to go through fine at that point.
I then notice that the two different companies have the same pay-out partner in Chile, and the money for both was picked up at the same location by my "friend".
The current situation:
So, my "friend" now has the money I owed him, and that same amount of money again on top of that. He's currently up 100% on what he lent me - not a bad interest rate!
I am not currently out of pocket, as such, as I have only been charged by the second transfer company. The first company refunded me, but has somehow still allowed my "friend" to pick the money up.
I have tried to call my "friend", but with no success for the past few days. Hmmm.
I am worried about contacting the first company (or their pay-out partner in Chile), who are the only ones currently out of pocket, by a few thousand dollars. I am worried that if I tell them, they will then immediately debit me for the full amount of the transfer again, which will leave me out of pocked by a few thousand dollars. It would then be down to me to get that money back from my "friend". I am not sure how likely that will be when he is across the other side of the world in Argentina and is not returning my calls!
So, my thinking is that perhaps I can ignore it and the first money transfer company somehow won't notice that they both refunded me and let the money get picked up. It is their error, and their duty to discover that and resolve it, in my opinion. If I "do the right thing" and tell them, I can only see it putting me unfairly out of pocket for a few thousand dollars, that I really cannot afford right now.
If I do nothing right now (in he hope that the useless 1st company doesn't notice), where do I stand legally? Bearing in mind that I don't live in the US at present (we're in Japan), but at some point in the future will want to apply for residency to live there with my wife.
And I guess I should ask - in case I can finally get in touch with him and need to try to appeal to him to return the money - where does my "friend" stand legally? I know that is complex and may be outside the remit of this forum anyway, given that he is Argentinian (and lives there), and the money was picked up in Chile, and I am guessing that this forum is not supposed to be for such questions of international/foreign law.
Any suggestions or links to info on laws covering such a situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
If anyone can allay my worries of me possibly ending up a few thousand dollars out of pocket too, that would be nice...