By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
updated 1/17/2008 6:29:34 PM ET 2008-01-17T23:29:34
COMMENTARY

We've encountered the occasional mistake on our paychecks, but this really boggles the mind: A man was arrested this week after he allegedly received $469,000 in electronic payroll deposits from a company he never worked for.

Anthony Armatys of Palatine, Ill., was arrested Wednesday on theft charges after officials at Avaya Inc., a telecommunications provider located in Basking Ridge, N.J., discovered checks had been mistakenly direct deposited into his account for nearly five years, according to the Somerset County prosecutor's office.

Armatys, 34, had accepted a position with Avaya years ago, authorities said, but he rescinded the acceptance before he ever started working. However, a system error resulted in checks being deposited into Armatys' bank account from the fall of 2002 to March of 2007, when the company discovered the error, officials said.

During that time, Armatys collected the more than nearly half million dollars in "pay" and even withdrew approximately $1,900 from an Avaya-sponsored retirement account administered by Fidelity Investments, authorities said.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest said it took investigators 11 months to do a thorough investigation, which resulted in the time gap between the discovery of the error and Armatys' arrest.

"The investigation had to be done, records had to be obtained, the list goes on," he said.

It's no surprise that an Avaya spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. Attempts to reach Armatys were not successful.

That's too bad, because we are dying to find out if his favorite song is Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing."

Steal our boss's ID, please
Here's some more banking buffoonery: Britain's Barclays sheepishly admitted last week it had inadvertently issued a credit card to a con man posing as the lender's chairman of the board.

Several British newspapers reported that an account held by the top executive, Marcus Agius, was pilfered of nearly $20,000 after a man called Barclays' customer service center claiming to be the banker after apparently finding some of his personal information online.

Agius played down the theft and sought to reassure customers who may have been alarmed at the notion that a chairman of a bank could become prey to identity theft.

"Credit card fraud is an issue which our industry continues to confront," he was quoted as saying. "Barclays is resolved to do everything possible on behalf of our customers, to minimize its impact." The bank added that every client, not just the chairman, are fully reimbursed if these types of thefts occur.

With no end in sight for the mortgage crisis, you think they'd be a little more careful with the cash they still have.

Mmm, mouse foot
A woman living in Slovenia who found a mouse foot in a jar of pickles was shocked to be told, in effect, that it was perfectly good to eat.

Lenka Komparova contacted the Health Ministry as she prepared to sue the company producing the food, according to the Ananova Web portal.

But instead of backing her claim, officials said she should consider the rodent appendage as a "special additive."

Ministry spokeswoman Vivijan Potocnik said: "It is completely normal in big factories to have mice wandering around, and yes, every now and then they get caught amongst the machines and do get bottled, seasoned, preserved and even make it in one piece to consumers.

"Although not very pleasant to see, however, they pose no health threat at all," Potocnik was quoted as saying. "During the preservation process, even traces of any salmonella bacteria are eliminated in food. A [mouse foot] therefore could be classified as a special additive to the pickles."

Komparova said: "I couldn't believe it. I don't know what they eat at the ministry — but finding dead animals in jars of food isn't normal."

Yes, it's a delicacy!

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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