An Australian was surprised to find an extra $123 million in his bank account. Even more surprising, however, was the complete and utter lack of concerned that his bank seemed to show about the glitch.
As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Matthew Pearce of Melbourne checked his Commonwealth Bank banking app on his phone one morning and found a surprise: rather than seeing the account balance he was expecting (which, as of this writing, hasn’t been made clear, but he admits it wasn’t much), Pearce saw that his bank listed his account as having quite a bit more. As in, over a hundred million more.
Specifically, Mr. Pearce’s bank account had a balance of $123,456,789.01 Australian Dollars (about $88.41 million in U.S. Dollars).
Obviously it was a glitch. Mr. Perace, who works as a glazier, had never seen that kind of money in his life. Also, the numbers in his supposed balance were in precise numerical order.
Commonwealth Bank glitch turns Melbourne tradie into a multi-millionaire https://t.co/Qp2s80S0a1
— Ashleigh Cox CPA! (@Coxy_Ash) May 25, 2016
“It actually gave me the option to transfer the money and BPAY it, so I could actively transfer money into someone else’s account. I was pretty shocked about it. I thought they’d actually paid me the money thinking I was someone else.”
Rather than do the wrong thing, morally and legally, and start blowing the money, Mr. Pearce decided to do the right thing and let Commonwealth Bank know about the error.
They were completely unconcerned, says Mr. Pearce. When he spoke to a customer service agent, the agent laughed.
“Oh, that’s great.”
The agent went on to explain that the money was there because of a glitch (obviously), and that “it can happen sometimes.”
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) May 24, 2016
In fact, so unconcerned was Commonwealth Bank about Mr. Pearce’s extra hundred-some-odd million that the extra, fictitious money sat in his bank account for two full weeks before everything was resolved.
Speaking to 9News, a representative of Commonwealth Bank insisted that, despite Mr. Pearce’s experience, everything is just fine on their end.
“We’re investigating how this could have occurred but I can confirm our CommBank app and NetBank are working as normal.”
Matthew Pearce is not the first Australian to find that a banking glitch has artificially inflated their bank account. But as Christine Jiaxin Lee of Sydney found out, just because your bank messes up, it doesn’t mean that you get to keep the money.
In 2012, just shy of her 18th birthday, Ms. Lee opened up a bank account with Westpac Bank. Some time around 2014 or 2015, Ms. Lee caught on to the fact that her bank was neither charging her overdraft fees, nor even noticing that her account was overdrawn. Figuring that the bank’s glitch gave her an almost literal carte blanche, she started spending.
And spend she did. She rented a tony apartment overlooking Sydney’s harbor, then started blowing money left and right on designer handbags and luxury goods. By the time anyone caught on to Lee’s spending, she had taken her bank for $4,653,333.02 Australian Dollars (about $3.3 million U.S. Dollars). She was apprehended by the authorities just as she was about to board a plane to Malaysia.
In fact, it was Ms. Lee’s story that inspired Matthew Pearce to go to the media with his own story of his banking glitch.
Both Lee’s and Pearce’s story illustrate the same point: if a bank makes a mistake, the money isn’t yours, so don’t go spending it. Instead, call you bank and let them know of the problem immediately.
And if you’re lucky, your bank won’t simply laugh you off like Commonwealth Bank did to Mr. Pearce.
[Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images]