Bank error in your favor: Google Pay bug accidentally sends users free money


Here’s a good reason to use Google Pay: Google might send you a bunch of free money. Many users report that Google accidentally deposited cash in their accounts—anywhere from $10 to $1,000. Android researcher Mishaal Rahman got hit with the bug and shared most of the relevant details on Twitter.

The cash arrived via Google Pay’s “reward” program. Just like a credit card, you’re supposed to get a few bucks back occasionally for various promotions, but nothing like this. Numerous screenshots show users receiving loads of “Reward” money for what the message called “dogfooding the Google Pay Remittance experience.” “Dogfooding” is tech speak for “internally beta testing pre-release software” so if a message like this was ever supposed to go out, it should have only gone out to Google employees and/or some testing partners. Many regular users received multiple copies of this message with multiple payouts.

Google's message to users that recieved surprise deposits.
Enlarge / Google’s message to users that recieved surprise deposits.

Users that got the surprise deposits later got an email from the Google Pay team detailing “an error that deposited unintended cash credit to your account.” The message starts, “You received this email because an unintended cash credit was deposited to your Google Pay account. The Issue has since been resolved and where possible, the credit has been reversed.” We’re going to guess that anyone that left the money in their Google Pay account had it taken out, but for those that spent or transferred the money, Google adds, “If we were not able to reverse the credit, the money is yours to keep. No further action is necessary.”

That’s right: If you spent or transferred the money, you get to keep it! Google doesn’t want to spend its time (or, presumably, incur the press coverage of) chasing down individual users.

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