Man’s high life on $1.6m after ATM glitch
IT sounds like the plot for a movie.
Ordinary bloke who works at a pub, goes to his local ATM to withdraw some cash after his shift. He pulls out $200, despite it saying "transaction cancelled", then pulls out more money and before you know it he's living it up as a millionaire.
Dan Saunders was able to live the life of the rich and famous after fleecing a major bank of more than $1.6 million.
"A lot of it is a blur I guess. That's the first thing that comes to mind," Mr Saunders said with a big grin.
"I was just interested in having a good time, drinking some nice wine and meeting some nice people and just enjoying things really."
In the first few weeks alone he spent $20,000, and soon enough, that figure turned into a whopping $1.6 million in about four months.
Mr Saunders admits the decisions he made during that time probably weren't the decisions he'd make if it weren't for finding "some crazy ATM loophole".
His short-lived life as a high roller began after he finished working a shift at his local pub in Wangarata, in rural Victoria in 2011.
He went down the road to withdraw cash from a NAB ATM, but didn't have any funds so transferred money from his Mastercard to his savings account.
"It came on the screen 'transaction cancelled', but it worked and the money was there, so I got the $200 out and thought nothing of it," he told Today Tonight Adelaide. "I just transferred money from the credit card.
"Curiosity got the better of me and I walked past the ATM again and I was like: 'I wonder if you can do that for another $200 or another $500 or $600."
It baffled him when the money kept coming out, but not appearing on his statements - and so, he couldn't resist.
"I'm transferring money from my credit card to my savings account and it's just spitting the card back out and saying 'transaction cancelled'," he told the current affairs program.
"But (I) go in and check the balance and the money's there."
Realising he can now afford anything he wanted, he headed straight for designer stores before embarking on his first ever private jet experience.
"I think I spent $20,000 in the first couple of weeks," he said, comparing his luck to a money tree.
"I was shaking the branches every day and saying 'hey look, what do you want to do today'."
Mr Saunders then spent $90,000 on a private jet to take him and a bunch of mates to a remote Asian island for a weekend.
"It's a pretty addictive thing to make money appear from nowhere and be able to spend it," he said.
However, as much fun as he was having, Mr Saunders admitted to constantly peering over his shoulder, making the decision to put an end to his double-life.
"I think the money and the general good time made it bearable but I always knew something, someone would come or something would happen," he told Today Tonight. "So it was quite baffling when someone didn't come.
"At the end of it I had to say to myself, 'Am I an international criminal who's just going to transfer money away and never be seen again?'"
"That's when I stopped doing it because I asked myself that question … and the answer was 'no'."
Eventually the law did catch up with him - but only after he outed himself to the bank and newspapers about what he'd done, the program reported.
He was charged with obtaining money by deception - $1.6 million - and sentenced to a year behind bars in 2015.
Now out of jail, Mr Saunders is back working in a restaurant - on $22 an hour.
He said he has no regrets and while he misses it "every day", he hasn't gone back to an ATM to try again.
"The only thing that was thought of was a good time because I thought it was going to end everyday anyway," he said.
"I didn't realise it was going to get up to the millions of dollars.
"I thought it was going to end after one week, not four and a half months."