Skip to comments.ATM glitch gives homeless man $37,000
Posted on 04/04/2014 4:42:14 PM PDT by perfect stranger
SOUTH PORTLAND (WGME) -- It's something we've all imagined at one time or another, going to an ATM and having the machine mistakenly spit out thousands of dollars. Never happens, right? Guess what? It did happen at a bank ATM in South Portland early Thursday morning.
This all started at one in the morning, when officers were called to a TD Bank branch on Maine Mall road. A transient was inside the bank sleeping beside the ATM. Officers went inside and moved him along. But, he came back.
(Excerpt) Read more at wgme.com ...
Whenever banks make a mistake in their favor, they say, “computers don’t make a mistake.”
From the article:
And Marcia Giancola, from Brunswick, says “If the bank was giving it, he wasn’t stealing it. He was just playing the slot machine, so to speak.”
Whenever banks make a mistake in their favor, they say, computers dont make a mistake.
Not necessarily. One time I had an ATM malfunction. It did not give me the cash but it was still withdrawn from my account. I called my credit union and they credited my account.
Exactly how was he doing that?
Nearly the opposite happened to me. I used my debit card for a $100.00 withdrawal. I received the cash but no withdrawal was ever recorded on my account. I did ask for a receipt and received one. I contacted the bank on two separate occasions and gave them the account numbers on the receipt. I asked about returning the money to the bank and the bank people said not to bother. So I kept the money!
If you made the rules, then you would too.
I should have played the lottery that day.
Hmmm, so you are saying I am a criminal and a liar? Thanks.
There’s a vending machine at my workplace that will occasionally dispense three items, and return all the money as well.
Of course, the way I see it, there have been plenty of times when the item got stuck, so I figure in the end, it’s pretty much a wash.
Somebody always has to spoil the fun.
No I was saying the banks make the rules.
...there have been plenty of times when the item got stuck,...
There is not a person on the planet that that hasn't happened to, unless they live in the New Guinea jungles.
I've worked on a number of ATM related projects (on one now for the Bank I work for ...) and I can tell you what most likely happened in this case.
The device that "grabs" the money and feeds it to the slot where you take your money out malfunctioned. That much I'm 99.999% certain of.
Whoever is responsible to monitor the status of the ATM device (not always your bank, could be a third-party service provider or the device maker themselves such as Diebold) has device monitoring software to detect when a component inside the ATM fails.
In your case, the "grabber" failed and threw a malfunction code to the Network Operations Center responsible to monitor that ATM.
Once that failure was detected and recorded, two things should've happened:
1. The device should've been automatically taken out of service. Occasionally the NOC will attempt to reboot the ATM and restore service. Failing that, and if a component in the device continues to send error codes back to the NOC, it's taken out of service. When an ATM "reboots" it's not always obvious. Even though most run Windows XP/Windows XP embedded you don't see a Windows boot screen. Typically a logo screen or blank screen will be present until the device completes rebooting. If it's taken out of service, an "out of service" notice would be present.
2. Your bank/credit union was notified of the failed transaction and the money credited back to your account. A good bank would've done that automatically. Some banks/credit unions wait until the customer comes in and complains. Either way, they're notified of the transaction failure so putting the money back in your account shouldn't be a hassle. (If it ever is, CHANGE BANKS.)
Now what made this ATM in Portland start spitting out thirty-seven thousand dollars? Most likely a component failure that wasn't properly trapped for and alerted by the ATM Monitoring Software. Whoever's responsible for the ATM Software running on the device and providing monitoring services for it has some explaining to do.
It is NOT uncommon for a bank in this situation to respond exactly as they did.
I cannot tell you which bank it was, but I once worked for a bank in which a Wealth Management manager stole almost $10,000,000 from the bank over a nearly 20 year period.
Wealth Management managers cater to the "uber rich" and typically provide banking services to wealth clients in their own homes. In the case of this bank, if a wealth management client on a certain tier called and said they wanted their boat washed that day, the Wealth Manager's job was to make sure that client's boat got washed that day.
Back to the theft. This Wealth Management manager shifted funds into and out of various clients accounts and into an off-shore account he had, disguising it as "normal business." This same person NEVER took a vacation, a violation of bank and Federal policy which states every full time individual responsible for the handling, depositing, managment, etc.. of money is REQUIRED to take a full seven days off every year WITHOUT conducting business for the bank during that time just to see if anything "fishy" happens.
So this Wealth Management person calls in sick one day. One of their clients called to speak with them about some "missing funds." As luck would have it, the Wealth Management manager's BOSS took the call and assured the client of the bank that he'd look into it.
Boss calls Wealth Management manager at home that afternoon and asks about the client's missing funds. The Wealth Management manager figured he's been busted by his Boss (he wasn't, at least at the time) and promptly spilled the beans about his twenty years of ripping off the bank.
You'd think that the Bank would have this individual arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Didn't happen. Know why? Because this very well known bank which has a huge wealth management clientele (clients with $10m or more in personal wealth) didn't want it to go public that one of their own Wealth Managers was ripping off their clients and the bank.
The bank did terminate the person responsible and recovered some of the stolen funds. They also ended up making a fairly substantial number of clients "whole" for their losses and swept the entire thing under the rug.
The brand damage that could've been caused by prosecuting the person responsible for stealing over $10m from the bank would've been so extensive that the Bank's management feared it could collapse a big portion of their business.
No, I can't say who the bank is.
Yup, It’s all fun and games ‘till the cops show up!
ATM = one-armed bandit?
Thanks for the explanation. Makes me wonder what happens to XP Embedded after Microsoft drops XP support. Will vulnerability increase?
Generally speaking, yes. Anyone running Windows XP on a computer connected to the Internet will be susceptible to new attacks on the OS Kernel which may have holes that are still open, or new viruses and malware. Given Microsoft spent the last near 15 years issuing security patches for Windows XP, that in and of itself should tell anyone with a functioning brain that they'd best move off XP and onto an OS that'll continue to have security patches issued, or they'll have only themselves to blame when their computer gets infected, becomes useless and they lose their data.
Now for Banks and ATM's: I cannot speak for every bank, only the few I'm familiar with that I've worked on ATM Projects for.
Banks (generally speaking) do not have their ATM's on public networks, meaning internet accessible. In the implementations I'm familiar with (including the one I'm working on now...) ATM's are connected back to the bank or a third-party service provider via a closed network. That network may be a MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) MPLS, occasionally closed DSL. In rare cases, I've seen ATM's connected via encrypted WiFi. Never have I seen an ATM directly or indirectly connected to the Internet.
Since the implementations I'm familiar with went to great lengths to ensure the ATM's were in no way accessible via Internet, the likelihood of compromise/infection was very, very low. That's not to say it cannot happen, anything's possible to someone with the will and desire to hack.
FYI, there is a huge banking industry effort to get off Windows XP and onto Windows 7. Since ATM's are touch devices, I'm pushing the Bank I work for and the ATM Device Manufacturer (Diebold) to focus on Windows 8 instead which would be more efficient, and "native" to the ATM Program Software itself. The delays in getting off Windows XP are mostly due to ATM Manufacturers having to re-write device drivers for the components in the ATM's to work with a new OS. The ATM Manufacturers are seemingly always behind in that regard, at least that's been my experience the last 10-12 years.
I had same exact experience, and ATM was in Prague
I would say someone scared for there job, put 100 dollars of their own money in to balance the receipts.
As long as the receipts balance no harm no foul.
Thanks again for the great explanation. It makes sense that ATMs would only be on a private network, but your comment got me to thinking about the number of non-ATM systems that might use XP or XPEmbedded, that are on the internet. Even some as critical as POS terminals, credit-card swipe terminals, etc. A reputable outfit like Diebold would notify them and make it easy to upgrade but I won’t be surprised if there are others who don’t, and allow those systems to become more vulnerable.
Probably a good opportunity for Linux or an embedded OS like QNX to make some inroads, but the changeover cost would be much greater than just moving from XP to Win 7 or 8.