An unemployed Galway mother-of-two handed $24million back to her bank – after they lodged it in her account by mistake.

Honesty was the best policy as far as single mum Laura Hughes was concerned when Ulster Bank made the error.

The Athenry mum had only 50 cents in her account the day before the bank lodged the huge sum.

She told the Irish Independent that she ‘nearly died of shock’ when she checked the account and discovered she had $24million available to spend.

“People told me to spend the money but instead I reported it to my bank manager a few hours later,” she laughed.

“I had checked my account online to find out if I had received my carer’s allowance for my son who has autism.

“Instead I found that I had 18,099,425.99 Euros in available funds.

“I rang all my family straight away to tell them and I just assumed it was an error.

“I have internet banking on my phone and I kept checking to see if I had the money.

“Then as a test, I decided to transfer 9,000 Euros into another account just to see if it would work.

“I started to really panic when it worked and everyone was telling me to run off and spend it.”

Hughes did admit to road testing a new car before she informed the bank of their error!

“I’ve been saving for a car for years and I was so tempted, you have no idea. But my gut instinct wouldn’t let me do it,” she said.

When she first visited her bank to tell them of the mistake, she was told they had no time to speak to her.

“When I explained what had happened, the bank employee ran off to get the manager,” she added.

“I was told it was down to human error and that banking staff had opened a 20million Euros overdraft facility in my name by mistake.

“I had access to the fortune for five hours. It was a nice dream while it lasted.

“I keep thinking of all the things I could have bought my son if I had all those millions in the bank.”

Ulster Bank has admitted to an ‘administrative’ error which has now been ‘rectified’.