The Commonwealth Bank have called in the Police in an attempt to claw back money dispensed liberally by its automatic teller machines in Sydney yesterday – while an investigation is under way into just how its banking system went so drastically wrong. In Some cases users got $800 when they only asked for $20.
At least 40 ATMs in Sydney were said to have spent much of the day dispensing large sums – in many cases to people who had sought only small amounts. The machines drew large crowds as news of their behaviour spread via Twitter and other social networking sites.
ABC Radio reported cases of people seeking to withdraw $20 and being doled out $800.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said there had been reports of similar problems with the bank’s ATMs issuing extra cash in Victoria, but mostly the problem appeared to have been confined to Sydney.
In a statement, the CBA said customers had been unable to use online banking, ATMs and ETPoS services due to a “technical glitch” after it carried out some routine overnight database maintenance.
(On the contrary, as many citizens and media – as well as social networks – reported, customers were making enthusiastic use of the supposedly unusable ATMs, with a 50-strong queue quickly forming at one Redfern machine, and large numbers drawn to others, where they were gleefully stuffing their wallets.
“Today some customers experienced difficulties when making a funds transfer through our NetBank and phone banking channels as a result of an issue overnight when conducting routine database maintenance,” said spokesman Steve Batten.
“Some point-of-sale systems and ATMs were also impacted and as a consequence of the issue, during the course of the day (Tuesday) some customers have reported withdrawing up to their daily card limits via ATMs.”
Jail sentence possible
NSW Police issued a warning that customers would not be able to keep the money if it exceeded their balance, and could face up to 10 years jail for fraud if they didn’t return it. Det-Sgt Col Dyson, commander of the NSW Crime Command’s Fraud Squad, said the CBA would have details of all funds withdrawn, though others believe that’s far from certain given the banking system’s “technical glitch”.
Technical glitches are becoming a relatively common affair in the Australian banks’ IT systems. The NAB last year had a catastrophic system outage, also attributed to overnight transaction processing problems.
And the CBA in December was hit by a computer problem that left about 5 per cent of its customers without access to their money – a problem also attributed to a corrupted file.
Yesterday’s problem as said to have been rectified and normal services restored by late afternoon.