Patrick Combs received a fake check in the mail for $95,093.35. As a joke, he went to his ATM and deposited it, thinking that it would bounce in a day or two. But it didn’t, as he describes in this great piece for The Financial Times:
But seven long days later the lottery-like amount was still there and I visited the bank where an employee told me that the funds were now all available for cash withdrawal. All $95,093.35 was mine for the taking. All I had to do was ask. Windfall money begs us to take it and run. But I restrained myself. And gave the bank another two excruciatingly long weeks to do their job, catch up with their mistake, and bounce the cheque. But at the end of three hellish weeks, during which I hourly resisted the urge to take the money and run to Mexico, where it would be worth twice as much, I was told by my branch manager, “You’re safe to start spending the money, Mr Combs. A cheque cannot bounce after 10 days. You’re protected by the law.”
So he decided to withdraw the money… What happened next was pretty interesting. The comments, however, disparage Mr. Combs:
Not funny. Mr. Coombs is a consumer ‘shoe bomber’. Because he could not restrain himself from doing something deliberately stupid, there will be endless paragraphs added to banking terms and conditions as the lawyers try to plan for every imaginable glitch in the use of atms. This kind of idiotic behaviour eventually makes life more tiresome for millions of others. Grow up.
You withdrew the money. A dishonest act. All business’s make mistakes. It would have been more amusing if you had notified them of your mistake first showing some honesty. The world can do without people like you. It moved into the area of appearing like attempted fraud on your part and not at all funny. How you bleat about them getting cross. You would have been calm of course if it had been your money?
What do you think Mr. Combs should have done? Is he deserving of the cash? Or was it a morally wrong thing to do?