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Nina In New York: ATM Error Gives New Meaning To The Phrase 'Dumb Luck'

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

In the "are you kidding me" moment of the week, it seems Bank of America (of whom I also happen to be a client) accidentally allowed a Detroit man to withdraw $1.5 million over fifteen days from casino ATM machines, which he more or less promptly gambled it away to zero.

First of all, this man has to be the worst gambler in the world. No, I'm sorry. Let's back up. First of all, I'd like to know how the bank managed to keep spitting money at this guy when I was hit with so many overdraft charges in the heady (read: dumb) days of my early 20s that I practically conscripted into Bank of America indentured servitude.

Second of all, I'd like to know how this man, Ronald Page, figured out that he could keep withdrawing so far beyond his bank account, which, according to ABC News, generally hovered at the $100 mark.

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Okay. Now, I'd like to understand how one person could manage to take that dream to end all dreams, that fantasy we've all entertained—a bank error in one's favor—and fritter it away on an endeavor at which he clearly has no skill. Obviously, Page has a problem with gambling. In that he does it compulsively and poorly. You'd think the dumb luck he encountered would have extended into the casino, but evidently it didn't. Or at least, not the luck part. Perhaps he should take up a different addictive behavior, like drinking or ultra-marathoning. Or why couldn't he have just gone through the motions, like in a movie montage when someone experiences a windfall? Rent the limo and the hookers, buy a top hat, book the high roller's suite and bathe in vintage champagne. If he had, he may not be in the pickle he is now, owing $1.5 million back to the bank and facing 15 months in prison.

According to the New York Daily News, "Bank of America had mistakenly put his account into a "pay all" status, allowing him to make the unlimited overdrafts."

A what now? Pay all? This is a thing? As in, this is an actual box a bank employee can check off next to a customer's account number.

I'd love to know who's supposed to be eligible for such elite status. Not me. I've gotten into hysterical arguments with customer service asking them to cut me a break on a $10 charge in exchange for years of loyal (if not entirely lucrative) business. And all this time, there are people who have been granted the right to make unlimited overdrafts. It doesn't really make sense as a concept, because if a person is ostensibly wealthy enough to be placed into this category, he or she would probably never come close to overdrafting. What am I missing here?

Apparently, about $1.5 million.

Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

The Nina In New York Archives:

The Dirtiest Thing In A Hotel Room Is...All Of The Things

Inside The Flight Delay Fish Bowl

Apparently, We're All Covered In Germs – And That's Not Terrifying

Bacon! It's Not Just For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack Time, And Drunkfood Anymore!

Sleep Yourself Thin? And Other Deliberate Misinterpretations Of A Scientific Study

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