We’ve all heard of those incredible stories of ATMs that spew thousands of dollars to a bank customer who didn’t request that much cash be dispensed and then learn not only did the ATM go crazy, but it also didn’t document the withdrawal to that consumer’s bank account.
We’ve also heard of those ATMs that seem to adopt a sudden human-like ability that just refuses to dispense any cash at all and then refuses to return the ATM card to the consumer. And don’t forget those ATMs that dispense cash to anyone who walks by, including those without money in their accounts or who might not even have an account the bank. Oh, those crazy ATMs. Still, they’re the best thing since peanut butter and let’s face it, they are indeed a life saver to millions every day. Keep reading as we take a look at the hilarious errors ATMs have made and what to do if you find yourself in your own ethical quagmire of whether to return the money or thank your lucky technological stars for the sudden windfall.
This one takes the cake. Every time we read it, it makes us laugh all over again – partly because of the dumb luck of the recipient of not getting caught, but mostly because of what ultimately happened.
Not long ago, a Bank of America customer, Ronald Page, went to his bank’s ATM to withdraw a bit of cash from an account that he believed had a few hundred dollars. He was slightly worried because he hadn’t received a text alert that let him know his balance had fell below his pre-set threshold. He just chalked it up to some glitch. When he got to the ATM, he was surprised at how much cash he was allowed to withdraw. Not only that, but then his text alert failed to send him a text that he had met or exceeded his daily withdrawal limit. He figured why question the money gods?
So then, he decided he’d hit his favorite casino. Soon, he’d lost the cash he initially withdrew and then, realizing there was some glitch, he figured, “Eh, why not? Most it can do is not give me anymore cash.” He then began withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars from ATMs in and around local casinos. He lost it all in one day between three casinos. Now here’s where it gets good. Page figured it was a bank error, so therefore, he wouldn’t be held accountable. He went on his merry way until the feds showed up at his door, ready to take him into custody and charge him with several federal counts. It’s entirely likely he will be spending time in a federal prison.
It took Bank of America more than two weeks to realize what had happened, too. This, of course, adds to hilarity of the story as a whole. Remember – this is a global company that only looks to shareholders and their profit lines, so there was a certain karma factor for many consumers. And the bank wasn’t unable to recoup the losses – and it likely never will.
Avoid the Problems
So, in our effort to keep our readers as far away from federal charges as we can, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you ever find yourself with a sudden and error-ridden financial windfall:
Remember – if you do receive and keep money from your credit card or bank card that you know was dispensed in error, you could be facing federal charges, including very serious financial fraud charges.
Always get and keep the receipt the ATM provides after a transaction. This is important because it contains important information such as the transaction date and time and the machine identifier. It provides your own record of the transaction if there’s some discrepancy later. Also, don’t just toss it aside, scan it and make sure the information is correct. If it’s not, contact the bank or credit card company as soon as you can to memorialize your own efforts of notating errors.
Don’t assume the amount dispensed is what you keyed. Count your cash. The problem many have with this is they’re concerned about who’s watching them count their money. Of course, you should never compromise your safety, but if you’re in an area where it’s safe to do so, count the cash before you leave the ATM – even before you step aside to let the next customer use the ATM. Not only that, but you’re being video taped – and it could be valuable if there are any discrepancies to what you say you received and what you actually requested.
Just as our banks and credit card companies want us to report fraudulent activity as soon as we discover it, the same holds true for discrepancies in our cash count from ATMs. Notify the bank or or card company as soon as you discover an error. Here’s a tip: on the back of most ATM and credit cards is an 800 number. The sooner you let them know, the better the odds are of the company or bank being able to trace the error.
So, as we wrap up this post, we thought we’d share another rather funny story of ATMs gone mad –
Imagine seeing a tweet from your local police department that read:
If you get a call that the ATM at HSBC in Milford-on-Sea is dishing out too much money – we are there already – Sorry folks!
That’s exactly what happened recently at an HSBC bank in the UK. Hundreds of people lined up to test their luck after hearing that an ATM was dispensing double what was being keyed into the keypad. Close to 200 folks were able to withdraw free money before police arrived and stood guard to stop the withdrawals. Here’s the kicker though – the bank had no choice but to allow them to keep their sudden fortune, even as the police tweeted another message:
If you have knowingly received too much money from an ATM, the banks will chase you as this may be classed as fraud.
HSBC, though, said it wouldn’t be asking customers to return the money as the mistake was theirs.
That was generous, right? The odds of that ever happening again in that same fashion are less than President Obama and the man hoping to take his job, Mitt Romney, ever playing golf together.