ATM machine showers unsuspecting customer with cash : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Published Thursday, November 18, 1999

ATM machine showers unsuspecting customer with cash

Darlene Pfister / Star Tribune

A few bucks for "pop and smokes" was all Keith Obraske wanted when he stopped at a Fridley ATM on his way to work Wednesday morning. But after he took the $20 bill he'd requested, the machine went wild, popping out $20 bill after bill after bill -- $5,580 in all.

"Pretty crazy, huh?," said Obraske, 23, a ceiling sprayer from Fridley. "I felt like I'd won the damn lottery, you know? I just kept scooping it up."

After spitting out the 279 $20 bills, the machine flashed that it was unable to complete the transaction because of a mechanical error. Obraske tucked the 3-inch-thick wad into his pocket and went on his way.

He briefly contemplated what he might do with that much money -- add it to the down payment on a new house he's building for him and his bride-to-be or maybe buy a big-screen TV. But mostly, Obraske said, he contemplated the consequences.

"I felt like I was being tested big time," he said.

So when he arrived at work five minutes later and shared his story with coworkers at Universal Spray and Drywall Co., he already knew he'd return the money.

His uncle and coworker, Jim Obraske, took the money to the Northtown branch of TCF National Bank. Proud of his nephew's honesty, he was a bit disappointed by the bank manager's response, a thank-you and two sports bags. So was Keith.

"I feel good that I'm a good little citizen for today," he said. "But from my point of view, TCF could have been a little more generous."

Apparently, others agreed.

Express Teller, a division of TCF Financial Corp., is working with the private group that owns the machine to find a more substantial reward for Obraske, said Dan Engel, senior vice president with TCF Financial.

The machine, in Mike's Gas and Grocery in Fridley, has been shut down temporarily. Obraske did the right thing, said Engel, who estimated it would have taken a few hours to track down the beneficiary of themachine's mistake.

After more than a billion transactions since Express Teller's 1978 inception, this is only the second time one of its ATMs has been so recklessly generous, Engel said. The last time was about nine years ago, and that customer also returned the money.

"We're very thankful that the customer did what he did," said Engel. "This is great Minnesota honesty. This is why you can write checks at McDonald's."

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 19, 1999


Solar storms could zap satellites, power grids

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-- Homer Beanfang (, November 19, 1999.

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