Bank Error Makes Customers Look Like Trillionaires

Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff

Some customers at a Tupelo, Mississippi, bank got to feel superwealthy this week, albeit briefly, when a system error made it look like they had trillions of dollars. 

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“It feels awesome. I mean, it’s something that doesn’t happen every day,” said one customer, Brandon Frazier, while speaking to local news station WTVA. “It’s a good feeling — until it goes away.” When he checked his BancorpSouth account on his mobile phone Wednesday morning, it appeared as if Frazier had a balance of over $4 trillion. Some other customers, meanwhile, had what appeared to be balances of over $40 trillion.

“For one second, when I didn’t realize it was $40 trillion, I thought maybe, for one second…” WTVA reporter Allie Ware, also a BancorpSouth customer, told the station about her brief hope that she could be loaded. “Then I saw all the zeros and just laughed, because I knew that was not true.”

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She was right, of course. According to the bank’s director of communications, Randy Burchfield, the crazy numbers people saw online were due to a system error. “It was a short-term thing. Within an hour the issue was corrected,” he tells Yahoo Shine. “It was a system issue involving display, and none of those numbers showed a real balance.”

Though such incidents are rare, they are not unheard of. In June, a Pennsylvania man was contacted by PayPal after his account reflected a transfer from his bank that totaled $92 quadrillion, due to a glitch in the system. Other times, high-balance surprises have been the result of a fellow customer accidentally depositing funds into the wrong account. Such was the case in the U.K. several years ago, when a Guardian columnist wrote about finding $400,000 erroneously deposited into his account. A similar thing happened in Philadelphia, when Joseph Bucci found — and spent nearly all of — $70,000 in checks mistakenly put in his account. As a result, Bucci was arrested on felony charges.

As for the Tupelo incident, New York-based finance and banking adviser Walter Edelstein says such situations are really more of the exception than the rule, but anytime there’s a strange discrepancy in your account, he tells Yahoo Shine, you should be calling your bank to find out what’s going on. “’Has someone broken in to my account?’ ‘Is my security at risk?’ ‘Is it a glitch in the system or just me?’ These are questions you should be asking,” he advises. Further, Edelstein suggests checking your balance once a week rather than waiting for statements.

And whatever you do, don’t go withdrawing and spending money that you’re certain isn’t yours. “Checks can be tracked,” he said. “I don’t think anybody would want to knowingly commit fraud.”

But trillionaire fantasies to get you through the day? Nothing wrong with that, of course.

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