Man went on a four-month bender discovering ATM glitch that gave him millions in cash

Mike Sheridan

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Man went on a four-month bender discovering ATM glitch that gave him millions in cash

Featured Image Credit: Dan Saunders/ A Current Affair

An Australian bartender found himself living the dream – albeit briefly – when he found a glitch in an ATM system that saw him pocket $1 million AUD (£936k). 

Dan Saunders, whose incredible story is now being made into a film, splashed out on private jets and high-end restaurants after uncovering a hack that gave him access to unlimited cash.

His life took a wild turn one night in 2011 when he was drinking in a town a couple of hours outside of Melbourne. Dipping out of the bar to check his bank balance and get some cash, he noticed the machine he was trying to use was acting strangely and wouldn't show his balance.

Dan went on a four-month spending spree after discovering the glitch. Credit: Dan Saunders/ A Current Affair
Dan went on a four-month spending spree after discovering the glitch. Credit: Dan Saunders/ A Current Affair

Dan later told Vice: "I transferred $200 (£117) from my credit account to my savings, and it said ‘transaction cancelled’ and spat the card out. I thought that was super odd, so I decided to try and get $200 out of my savings account just to see what would happen."

It worked. 

A few drinks later, Dan decided to play around with it a bit more and returned to the ATM. 

"I'd been thinking about how odd the whole thing was, so I put the card in again and started playing around,” he recalled. “I transferred another $200 (£117) and got the money out. Then $500 (£293), then $600 (£351), just to see what would happen."

He had discovered a glitch within the system. The ATM disconnected from the bank and the internet between 1am and 3am. He quickly took advantage of the hack, withdrawing hundreds and then thousands. 

Dan lived the high life for more than four months before ultimately handing himself over to the police. Credit: Dan Saunders/ A Current Affair
Dan lived the high life for more than four months before ultimately handing himself over to the police. Credit: Dan Saunders/ A Current Affair

"On the first day, I spent $2,000 (£1,170), but on the second day, I transferred $4,000 (£2,341) to make sure my balance didn't stay negative,” he said. “The transfer at night would go through, then reverse one day later. But if you stayed ahead of that reversal by doing another one, you could trick the system into thinking you had millions."

That's exactly what Dan did, enjoying a lavish lifestyle for more than four months and living like a millionaire. During that time, he partied hard and travelled the world. 

"If you have imagination and money, you're able to help people live their wildest dreams," he later said.

Dan chartered private flights, paid off friends' student loans and even paid for homeless people to have a place to stay for the night. 

Dan ‘felt like a rockstar’, buying whatever he wanted and partying like crazy. The bank would call every once in a while to make sure certain transactions had been made by him, but they never mentioned the glitch or questioned it – there didn't appear to be anyone noticing. 

Dan was sentenced to 12 months in jail. Credit: A Current Affair
Dan was sentenced to 12 months in jail. Credit: A Current Affair

Still, his anxiety was starting to build, and the nightmares began. "I had a nightmare that the SWAT team was out the front of the hotel room I was staying in. I remember waking up in a pool of sweat, realising that it was just a dream."

He ultimately let the bank know of the error. They told him he was 'in big trouble' and that the police would contact him – but he then heard nothing for two years. 

After seeing a psychiatrist for anxiety and guilt, Dan accepted he had to turn himself in to the police – but not before sharing his incredible story on national television. 

Dan was ultimately sentenced to 12 months in jail on theft and fraud charges in 2015, and was released with an 18-month community corrections order. 

Doing the right thing and turning himself in appears to have paid off for the Aussie, who initially returned to his job as a barman. Today, he's writing his life story, which is also being turned into a film

"It was really just a case of 'bad Dan, cop a whack'," he later said.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Topics: Features, Weird, Crime, True crime, Australia

Mike Sheridan

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