Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Software hiccup made ATM far too generous

Cash machines disgorged $31,000. Photo / Jason Dorday
Cash machines disgorged $31,000. Photo / Jason Dorday

Cash machines are not often a bottomless pit of money - unless you bank with TSB.

A software glitch has given Taranaki Savings Bank customers an unlimited overdraft facility. One New Plymouth customer was able to withdraw $31,500 he did not have.

Jormah Satchel Martin, 18, was sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court to 21 months' jail after taking advantage of the faulty machines. On discovering he could withdraw as much as he liked, Martin made 20 transactions at numerous ATMs over two days.

Other customers took extra money too, but Martin, also known as Jormah Ewington, was the only one charged. Martin's lawyer, Julian Hannam, said this was because his client was the only one to go back time and again.

"There were other people who could get money but he took far more than anyone else," Hannam said.

"The others were treated as a mistake, rather than an effort to appropriate funds which is the scheme that Jormah adopted.

"He just kept going back."

Martin pleaded guilty to two representative charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage.

He spent the money on three cars and a weekend in Auckland with his friends.

Police found $885 hidden in the air-conditioning system of one of the cars.

Hannam said Jormah would not have to pay back any of the money but the cars had been seized.

"There was no order for reparation from the judge," Hannam said. "He is young, has no job and there is no chance of it being repaid."

Hannam said Martin had a history of dishonesty. He was jailed last year for conning at least 15 people out of thousands of dollars for non-existent car parts he advertised on Trade Me.

In 2011 he was charged after he made a 111 call and told police he had been stabbed in the chest. When police arrived at his house, Martin, then 17, was unharmed.

A TSB spokesman could not be contacted yesterday to confirm how many people had accessed money they should not have been able to. It was reported that the problem arose during a national software upgrade.

- Herald on Sunday

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