This Man Withdrew $1.5 Million Beyond His Account Balance

A Man Makes Millions From An ATM Hack | Withdrew $1.5 Million Beyond His Account Balance!

Dan Saunders, a bartender in Australia, stumbled upon an ATM malfunction that let him withdraw over a total of $1.5 Million, far beyond his balance. A simple mishap of the machine earned him a way for a luxurious life beyond his means.

One night in 2011 in Melbourne, Dan went to check his bank balance and withdraw some money. But the ATM acted up, not showing his balance and randomly spitting his card out. The 29-year-old then experimented by transferring money between his accounts. Surprisingly, the transactions allowed him to withdraw cash without actual deductions from his account. Let’s dive in to know the reason behind this ATM Glitch and whether his actions were caught as a crime.

The Discovery of the Glitch

Dan’s discovery began with simple curiosity. The ATM disconnected from the bank’s server between 1 AM and 3 AM and failed to complete transactions properly. This gave him the perfect chance to exploit by withdrawing amounts like $200, $500, and then $600.

Each transaction was supposed to reverse the next day. But Dan found that by making new transfers, he could prevent his balance from correcting itself. This loophole turned into his golden ticket.

“I just kept thinking about how strange it was. So, I pushed further, transferring more money and pulling it out without a hitch.” 

Dan recalled in an interview
Image source: NZ Herald / VICE
Image source: The Sun / The Swift Half / Joe UK

Living the Dream: Four Months of Luxury

With access to what seemed like an infinite stream of cash, Dan indulged in a spree of luxury that most can only dream of. He hired private jets, dined in upscale restaurants, and set himself a lavish lifestyle. 

But it didn’t stop at just living the high life for himself. He also paid off his friends’ student loans and provided shelter for homeless people overnight.

Dan described those months as surreal, feeling like a rockstar, navigating through a world where money was no longer an issue. However, this sudden wealth brought its own set of moral and psychological challenges. Dan grappled with the implications of his actions, both good and bad. 

“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. 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.”

Dan Saunders

The Downfall: Anxiety, Guilt, and the Inevitable Consequences

However, the thrill didn’t last forever. As the reality of his actions began to sink in, Dan faced mounting anxiety and guilt. He started having nightmares about being caught and grew uneasy with his lifestyle. He even dreamt of a SWAT team staying out the front of the hotel he was staying in.

Despite periodic checks from the bank, his scheme went unnoticed. However, he eventually decided to come clean. Dan turned himself in to the authorities after confessing on national television.

He was arrested and received a subsequent 12-month jail sentence. His penalty also followed an 18-month community corrections order. Dan was also ordered to repay $250,000 as compensation to the National Australia Bank.

“It was really just a case of ‘bad Dan, cop a whack.'”

Dan Saunders
Image source: Historic Flix

Reflections and Redemption: Life After the Glitch

After serving his due time in jail, Dan returned to his job as a bartender. He took his experiences to a new level by documenting his story. Dan narrated an 8-part podcast titled “The Glitch” and even began writing a book. His life story also got adapted into a film titled “Cashout!”

This chapter of his life stressed themes of redemption and learning from one’s mistakes, transforming a period of misguided adventure into a cautionary tale and a source of creative inspiration.


Dan Saunders’ story is a riveting account of temptation, consequence, and moral reflection, underscored by the vulnerabilities in our technological and financial systems. It serves as a reminder of the ethical dimensions and potential pitfalls that can arise when the line between right and wrong becomes blurred by unforeseen opportunities.

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