Forget about discounted TVs and Instant Pots -- the best Black Friday weekend deal this year was straight-up free cash. A Houston-area Bank of America ATM was shut down by law enforcement officials after it was found to be dispensing $100 bills instead of $10 bills. The free money frenzy appears to have started when a local man stopped at the machine to make a quick withdrawal and -- much to his surprise -- received a crisp Benjamin.
According to a report by NBC affiliate KPRC, word of the free cash spread on social media and greedy -- or brilliant, depending how you spin it -- patrons flocked to the machine to try their luck before it was blocked off by police. Several arguments, and even a few fights, broke out as a crowd gathered to withdraw their hard-earned cash (and then some) from the glitchy ATM machine. Naturally.
The fun lasted about two hours before officers were called to stand guard at the ATM. The Harris County Sheriff’s Department cut off the cash cow at around 11pm. When police arrived on the scene, hopeful money-grabbers waiting to use the machine made a run for it.
Bank of America issued a statement about the blunder on Monday, alleging that a vendor accidentally loaded $100 bills in place of $10 bills, causing the error. As for those who cashed in on the bank’s mistake, they’ll get to keep their bounty. Bank of America said it does not intend to take back any of the mistakenly withdrawn money.
“This was an incident at a single ATM in Houston caused when a vendor incorrectly loaded $100 bills in place of $10 bills,” Bank of America said, per the statement. “We have resolved the matter. Customers will be able to keep the additional money dispensed.”
Bank of America did not reveal exactly how many people profited off their mistake or much cash was incorrectly withdrawn from the ATM. But it’s easy to see how people could have made off with hundreds of dollars, just by withdrawing their own money in increments of $10.
Authorities told KPRC theft charges could be filed if the bank decided to demand their money back. Lucky for them, Bank of America has opted to let it slide this time.
“There is 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, of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Financial Crimes Unit, said.
While there may be “no free lunch” in Nowick’s world, it certainly seems like this one’s on Bank of America, so if you were lucky enough to profit off this gaffe, by all means splurge on some avocado toast or a trip to your favorite brewery or whatever seems like the best way to celebrate literally laughing all the way to the bank.