There are few kinds of trouble like money trouble. Charles Dickens summed it up well in his novel “David Copperfield.”
It featured an optimistic clerk named Wilkins Micawber who famously said, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen (pounds) nineteen (shillings) and six (pence), result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
Indeed, far too many of us live our financial lives in a constant deficit, spending more than we take in. Maybe that’s why a malfunctioning ATM in Houston, Texas, seemed like a salvation to local customers.
According to KPRC, a visitor to a Bank of America ATM in Houston, Texas, got a surprise on Nov. 25. Bank records showed that someone made a withdrawal about 11 p.m.
When the person went to take his cash from the machine, though, he made an amazing discovery. He’d requested $20, but that wasn’t what he got.
The ATM had given him a cool $100. The man decided to share his good fortune on social media.
In no time at all, a throng of people had descended on the machine. Their plan was to see if they could get extra money back, too.
It actually worked, and cardholders soon found themselves clutching fat sheathes of cash. That was when the trouble started.
Full-fledged arguments began to break out as crowd members began to jockey for position. Those disagreements soon flashed into violence, and punches started flying.
People magazine reported that the hubbub lasted for about two hours. Then officers from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office arrived and cordoned off the ATM.
It seemed the windfall was over. In fact, the police wanted to let people know that their seeming good fortune could have dire consequences.
Sgt. Joshua Nowick of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Financial Crimes Unit said, “There’s no free lunch. If you receive money that you know it is not yours, and you refuse to give it back upon demand, you can, at the discretion of the district attorney, be charged with theft.”
Fortunately, the whole thing didn’t come to that. Bank of America issued a statement saying that those who’d used the ATM could keep their extra money.
“This was an incident at a single ATM in Houston caused when a vendor incorrectly loaded $100 bills in place of $10 bills,” the bank said. “We have resolved the matter.
“Customers will be able to keep the additional money dispensed.” People were understandably thrilled.
One unnamed woman said, “I could use so much extra cash. I think it’s just really awesome that they said, ‘Keep it.’”
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