Barman Turns Himself In After His Bank Didn’t Notice He Hacked ATM and Withdrew $1.1m
A 29-year old barman Dan Saunders was on a night out in 2011, when he discovered he had run out of cash. He wanted to buy a round of drinks but his card was declined.
He went to a nearby ATM and discovered that he had only $3 AUD in his account. Desperate, he clicked to withdraw $100 and the machine brought out the money, despite an error message that the transaction had been declined.
He went back to the bar to continue drinking but the temptation to get more overcame him and he went back.
He told Sun Online: “I tried to get $250 and then $300 just to see what would happen and it kept giving me the money. It was 1am in a country town so there was nowhere open to spend it. I think it was a combination of being tipsy and bored, but I just kept doing it again and again, it was like a magic trick.”
He later discovered that by visiting the ATM between midnight and 1AM, he could withdraw as much cash as he wanted because the cash machine wasn’t connected to the server.
The next day, the charges will show as minus figures on his account but he’ll still be able to withdraw the following day.
In four months, he withdrew over $1.6m AUD (over $1.1m) and spent it on private jets, escorts and holidays.
Amazingly, his bank didn’t notice and he got away with it
“Being able to withdraw hundreds with the stroke of a key was a very addictive thing – I felt like a caveman discovering fire,” he says.
“The bank would just ask: ‘Did you just go here? Did you just go there?’ And I’d say: “Yeah, that’s me” and then they’d say ‘No worries just checking it’s you’. It was truly bizarre.”
“I just resolved to keep going until the bank put a stop to it, but they never did,” he adds.
He kept withdrawing and spending on eating out in the best restaurants, throwing out wild parties, buying a 20-seat private jet and paying for escorts.
He account balance was showing that he was getting more and more into debt, but he said his bank never contacted him. He got scared and started to gamble so he could win the money back.
He was eventually fired from his job for gambling and his girlfriend dumped him.
He continued to withdraw money to keep up with his lifestyle.
“People who think you’ve got money they treat you differently. Especially with the opposite sex, it attracts people. In terms of the ladies I’m not sure on exact numbers – but I’d say around 80 and they were all super hot. I would rate myself on looks about a soft four. But when I had the card I became so much more attractive to the opposite sex. Id say a hard eight out of 10,” he says.
Dan also paid off some of his friends’ university tuition fees and sent a mate to study in France.
He didn’t let his family know what was going on and most of his friends didn’t believe the ATM story he was telling.
He chartered the 20-seat private jet to an island in Asia, near Bali, which set him back almost £50,000.
“I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was, but I didn’t need a passport to get there. We were in the air for about three hours and had filled the plane up with people. It was a mix of old friends and new faces. We hired the whole resort, the over-water villas and ate and drank there. I opened the book on anything – people just gave me their dreams and I fulfilled them,” he says.
Dan also at one time, hired a minibus and stopped at all the backpacker hostels in Melbourne picking up people. He then took them to a large estate he rented and hosted pool parties.
Dan started having anxiety attacks later on, and was getting scared of being caught.
“I think there was a small part of me wanted it to end but I was past the point of no return, my life had changed dramatically. One night I had a nightmare that the SWAT team was out the front of the hotel room I was staying in.
“I remember waking up in a pool full of sweat, realising that it was just a dream and then hotel doorbell rang. I was like ‘that’s it, I’m gone. They’re coming to get me’, which actually would have been a relief – but it turned out to be the maid asking if I’d like fresh towels,” he said.
Dan contacted the bank in June of 2011 after he stopped withdrawing the money and they told him the police will get in touch with him, but they never did.
Two years passed and no one noticed anything from the bank. Dan was now finding it difficult to come to terms with his overnight riches and decided to see a psychologist.
The first freaked out and told him she wasn’t qualified to help him. The second then told him to turn himself in to clear his conscience.
Dan then went to several local newspapers to share his story and even appeared on a national news programme detailing his lifestyle.
He also gave a video interview on Australian news programme, A Current Affair.
It took authorities 3 years before he was arrested on 111 counts of fraud and theft.
“The court case was weird because no one actually understood what I did: not the judge, not the prosecutor, it was very odd.
There were many blank looks; the bank provided minimal evidence so it was really just a case of ‘bad Dan and that’s it….case closed.
They even played the Current Affair interview in the court room as evidence. It was surreal.
I just sat back and pleaded guilty and sort of let it all unfold in front of me.
It was the oddest set of circumstances I have ever witnessed,” he said.
Dan now works in a bar again after he was released from jail following the completion of his one year sentence.
In May 2016, Saunders left jail after spending a year in prison. He’s now working in a bar again on £12.50 an hour.
According to DailyMail, Dan, in a new interview with ACA, said he has no regrets.
“Sure, sometimes life can seem a bit mundane and boring after what I experienced, but that’s OK. Not everything in life needs to be totally exhilarating, and there’s a lot of joy to be found in normal, ordinary life,” he said.
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