My cousin was supposed to receive money from a sale, keep a percentage and then send the rest over to me.

I found out that not only did he receive more money from the sale of my item ($550 instead of the expected $350), but that he received the money well before the date he was supposed to. After the payment date passed I called the buyer (a company) today and they said they transferred the money over to my cousin's bank account over a month ago and even showed proof.

I asked my cousin about the money but he said he hasn't received anything yet.
My cousin is currently out of a job and doesn't know that I know about the situation.

How do I approach him in a respectful way about this?

UPDATE: I've sent him money in the past (well before this incident) to help with financial troubles and so his account number was logged in the transaction history. I compared the account number on the transaction history to that on the receipt and they are both the same.

One thing I notice is that he's ignoring my messages on Whatsapp because the blue check mark lights up (which means he's seeing my messages) but he isn't responding to them.

We spoke over the weekend (Thanksgiving weekend no less) and he said he had the money but also came up with a story about being in a motorcycle accident.

I am going to let this go on for a while and see if he finally admits he stole my money. We'll see

FINAL UPDATE: My cousin finally responded to my texts/calls and confessed. He says he's going to try to pay me back but I know he's never going to. I am cutting ties with him not because of the money but because of his dishonesty. Right before this I bought him a fridge for his upcoming wedding - I feel so stupid for trusting my own cousin now. Let this be a lesson to everyone - be careful trusting family members with money

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    Are you positive your cousin received the money, and has sold the item? Are you sure your cousin is lying to you? Could the buying company have made a mistake, or this could be a scam? What kind of proof did the company show you, and since privacy laws exist how can the company & you be 100% sure that your cousin's bank account actually received the money? Going with your cousin to his bank, or logging in online with him, are the only ways to know 100% for sure.
    – Xen2050
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 0:13
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    What do you care more about? The money or the relationship? If you insert family into dealings... and things don't go as planned... what is more important to salvage? I have family I know I'll never collect from - some of which are from situations like using our credit card without our permission... That won't happen again but the relationship is more important... My 2c.
    – WernerCD
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 17:49
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    Right but what does that really say about the person - would you really want to continue having a relationship with someone who steals from you and lies? Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 18:02
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    @AndresAlvarez - Would you really want a relationship with someone who will abandon you when you are in such a desperate situation that you have to resort to stealing from people? What does that say about you as a person? Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 22:05
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    @RyanfaeScotland I don't plan on abandoning him. I mean after all, they are family. I also agreed to give him a percentage of the money so it's not like I wasn't going to help him out. It just bothers me how he decided to keep all of it and not tell me about it. Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 22:28

4 Answers 4


In all likelihood you aren't going to get your money. He's lying to you for a reason. If he had any intention to give you the money, he would have done it already.

You can attempt to get it from him by confronting him, I'd suggest explaining the situation with the evidence to 1 or more other family members and bringing them along. It's a shame tactic, but he should be ashamed.

If that doesn't work, and it is a substantial amount of money, I would file a small claims case at your local court. For amounts under $5000 it can be done by individuals, but you will have to do substantial research into the process. If it's more than that, then you need a lawyer to help you navigate through a circuit court.

In all likelihood, it's gone. Brace yourself for that.

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    I feel like I'd feel somewhat attacked if I was the cousin and was approached this way. Could you explain how this method addresses the OP wanting to approach his cousin in a respectful way?
    – Jess K.
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 22:14
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    There is no respectful way to approach him, because what his cousin did is theft. There is no respectful way to discuss someone stealing from you. You can try to get it back, and if that fails, then cut someone who is a POS out of your life.
    – Issel
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 15:36
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    @Issel Unfortunately this is exactly what happened. I am marking this as the correct answer since this was the outcome of the situation. He ended confessing and said he would pay me back but I know he's not going to. Let this be a lesson to everyone - be careful trusting family members with money Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 3:27
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    My answer is very tough, and a little unforgiving. My experience is to get straight to an answer, and to move on with your life. If you try to maintain connections with every toxic person in your life, it will end up with you being burned out being constantly kicked around. Your life goals are far more important than someone who doesn't care how they mistreat you.
    – Issel
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 14:41

I'd be direct but offer him the opportunity to still come clean on his own. Maybe something like:

Hey, I heard from the buyer that the money was transferred to your account. Would you be able to double check and see if you missed the transaction last time you checked? If not, we should call them back and see what's going on.

This allows your cousin to say "oops! What do you know... I did miss it," without forcing an admission of guilt.

This also implies that if he says the money didn't come through, you will be calling to investigate deeper into where the money is. If the money was genuinely transferred to him and he knows it, he will know that he needs to fess up sooner rather than later.

If he still doesn't confess, I would get him and the buyer both involved to figure out where the money went. He will either be forced to confirm he received the money, or you could find out where the money truly is!

Bank errors are always possible. I was once set up for direct deposit at work and my first check went to some stranger because of one mistyped digit.


Don't think too much, just say this to your cousin:

The company is saying they sent all the money to your account, they are lying, let's prove them wrong by showing your bank statements of the month they were supposed to send the money, so we can get our commission.

This way your are not confronting him about lying, you are just trying to 'prove your cousin is innocent' and prove that the company is at fault, but at the same time know who is actually lying.

  • I'm starting to think he really is lying. If I somehow make him mad by exposing his lies then I'll never get my money and I'll lose the family relationship- this is why it needs to be handled carefully. Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 20:48
  • @AndresAlvarez I think it's better to not call him out until you know the truth by using what I suggested. Once he's exposed, he should be embarrassed and give you the money back by saying "oh I didn't see blah blah" and you should say "that's ok, it happens" but never do any business with him again. That way you never officially lost a relationship. once he gets caught and not giving your money back, you probably should take that on the chin and end that relationship, and make sure other family members know about this. I wouldn't fight him or sue him for couple of hundred dollars .
    – jsPlayer
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 18:14

Why not verify with the buyer and the bank concurrently with your cousin?

If you can get together in person, (1) you can call the buyer on speakerphone (or go to the company with your cousin) and allow a three-way dialog to resolve what they have to say. Do not make any accusations; just contrive an excuse to work together with your cousin while doing this. If you still are not paid, (2) then continue on with communicating with your cousin's bank to verify he received the funds -- still working together under the auspice that you are trying to help resolve the transaction to completion.

If he is lying or mistaken, then completion of the previous two steps (or some equivalent of them) should provide a path to resolution that may not require your cousin's admission of fault. Otherwise, the problem is with the buyer or the bank and needs to be solved with them before you get paid.


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