A homeless man in South Portland, Maine received quite a surprise when he went to an ATM to withdraw $140 from his account; the ATM gave him the $140, but it did not stop there; it completely malfunctioned and kept on giving until it had spit out a sum totaling $37,000. Sometime later, a woman pulled up, who also needed to withdraw money from the ATM, and observed the man acting strangely and spending what she thought was simply too much time at the ATM so she decided to alert the police.
South Portland police responded to the call and when they arrived on scene around 5:30 a.m., at the TD Bank branch, they observed the man stuffing large amounts of cash into a shopping bag. It is not clear if the man was merely bagging the money up and was planning to return it to the bank when they opened or if he intended to keep the money and make off with his newfound fortune. There is simply no way of knowing what his true intentions were regarding the money.
Faced with the same situation, many people would have tried to keep the cash. It would have been a stuffing frenzy as they crammed the money in a bag, their pocket, a purse, or anything else they happened to have handy at the time. Then, they would have left the scene as soon as possible before anyone could see or identify them. However, other people would have done the opposite. While they may have collected the money, they would have notified the police and turned the money over to them immediately or they would have taken the money back to the bank the following business day. Most people know that keeping the money would be wrong and that eventually, they would be caught, made to pay all the money back, and charged with a felony for stealing.
In this case, police officers immediately recognized the homeless man because they had previous dealings with him. Officers detained the man and later returned the money to the bank. However, if it is solely up to the bank, the man will not face any jail time because they do not plan to press charges.
A representative of the bank explained their decision saying that this particular ATM had been out of order on Friday due to an internal code error. Apparently, when the bank reinstated the machine to service, they had not completely fixed the problem. The machine’s malfunction and the fact that it spit out $37,000 was due to an error within the machine; the man did not try to crack or manipulate the ATM in any way. Furthermore, the bank said no other customer accounts were affected, as a result of this mishap, so there simply was no need to press any charges against the man.
At this point, the police have declined to release the homeless man’s name because he has not been charged with a crime due to the ATM malfunctioning and spitting out $37,000. However, since the incident is still under investigation, officers said they have not completely ruled out the possibility that charges may be filed against the man at a later time.
Opinion By Donna W. Martin