We all get these junk mail checks for various amounts, can you imagine depositing one and actualyl receiving the full amount with no strings attached?
That’s exactly what happened to Patrick Combs.
He got a check through some junk mail with a letter from some get rich quick company.
The letter said something along the lines of “this is how much money you could soon be making”.
Well Patrick went to the bank and decided to deposit the check as a joke.
And so he did, he dropped it off at the bank’s ATM and went home.
Combs expected a call from the bank shortly after telling him that the check was fake.
Well days passed and he totally forgot about the joke.
Five days later, he went to the ATM to take out some cash and realized that his balance was $95,093 higher!
The bank had credited his account with the fake check received in the mail!
His thoughts then turned to what everyone else thought, fake check, bank made a mistake, it’ll be given back.
The first buddy Combs phones says it was standard bank policy, to credit the account with the dollar amount and putting a hold on the check until it bounced and in a few days his account would go back to normal.
A week later, the amount was still available in his bank account, and Patrick Combs decided to visit the bank upon which a bank employee told him that all the funds were available for cash withdrawal.
Combs being a stand up guy decided to wait two more weeks, for the bank to catch up realize the mistake and take the money back.
Well three weeks later, the branch manager spoke with Patrick and said that he was safe to start spending the money, a check cannot bounce after 10 days and that he was protected by the law.
Well before spending all that money, Combs went to a law library to straighten out the details himself.
At the law library, he discovered that there is no 10-day rule that protects you on a bounced check, and that it was a 24 hour rule. In the United States, when a bank receives notice that a check paid into your account has bounced, it has 24 hours to let you know, and if they don’t, you are free to spend the money.
The second thing he discovered while researching is that a little-known change in the 1990 Uniform Commercial Code made it so that the words “non-negotiable” printed on a check does not invalidate it.
It may have been a small change in footnotes, but this small change made the check he deposited a real check.
Well at this point Combs decided it was time to withdraw the money and put it into a locked deposit box for safe keeping.
What happens next is not what he expected, he had expected that some junk mail company who had accidentally mailed out millions of very real $95,000 checks would be calling and asking for his money back.
And not being a fan of get rich quick schemes it would have been quite the interesting conversation.
But, that did not happen.
What did happen was his bank confiscated his ATM card, locked him out of his account and sent a very very angry man to call him.
The bank sent the senior security officer to call and yell at Patrick, threatening to send the police to his doorstep if Patrick did not immediately comply with the request for the money back.
If the bank had just simply asked nicely, Combs was willing to return the money back.
Well since the senior security officer was threatening, Combs requested a statement in writing.
Something on official bank stationery stating the person’s name and title, why they want the money back, and Combs would make a choice from there.
The bank official pretty much said that was never going to happen.
Patrick Combs took that as hostility and that a fight was going to happen.
He took the stance that if there is no letter taking responsibility for the banks mistakes, no return of the money that was legally his.
Well this little stand-off apparently got picked up by people, and went totally viral on the Internet.
Combs does eventually return the check, but for the experience, he got to write a book, create a show, and is now doing speaking engagements.