Houston ATM Dispenses Wrong Money, Customers Treated To Unexpected Windfall

The slot for $10 bills was mistakenly filled with $100 bills at a Houston ATM.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The slot for $10 bills was mistakenly filled with $100 bills at a Houston ATM.

Bank of America customers were treated to an unexpected windfall Sunday night at an ATM in Harris County when the machine spit out $100 bills in place of $10 bills, according to KXAN News. A man went to the Bank of America ATM near FM 1960 and I-45 late Sunday night. Instead of receiving a $10 bill, the machine gave out a $100 bill.

After the man posted about the incident on social media, crowds of people rushed to the ATM to withdraw free money. Reportedly, arguments broke out, leading to fights. Police arrived on the scene two hours after the machine malfunctioned. People were still trying to get free cash from the machine even after the police showed up. Sheriff’s deputies stood guard while the matter was resolved.

It is unknown how much cash was taken from the ATM during the hours the glitch caused $100 bills to be dispensed. Also unknown is how many people took advantage of the error.

“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,”
Sgt. Joshua Nowick, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Financial Crimes Unit told KPRC.

However, since the Bank of America is not demanding any of the money back, those who took advantage of the human error are allowed to keep the extra cash.

Bank of America sign
  Mike Mozart / Flickr

Bank of America released a statement Monday afternoon regarding the error.

“This was an incident at a single ATM in Houston caused when a vendor incorrectly loaded $100 bills in place of $10 bills. We have resolved the matter. Customers will be able to keep the additional money dispensed.”

Though it is not unheard of for an ATM to malfunction, whether due to human or computer error, one that malfunctions by spitting out large sums of cash is rare.

In a similar incident earlier this year, the Central National Bank ATM in Wichita, Kansas, was dispensing $100 bills in place of $5 bills. It was days before the bank knew about the error. The bank is suing a woman for taking advantage of the denomination error in the January 2018 glitch, according to the Wichita Eagle.

The woman being sued reportedly made 50 withdrawals from the malfunctioning ATM over a span of five days. Instead of receiving the $1,485 the woman was owed from her account, the machine spit out a total of $14,120. The bank is suing the woman for $11,607.36 plus interest.