Dan Saunders was convicted for stealing $1.6 million from ATMs. He lived it up for four months before handing himself in. He was eventually jailed, and made to pay a fine for his crime.
He's now working as a barman in regional Victoria.
I've been fascinated by Dan's story, and have made a podcast about his experience.
But I keep being asked one question: Do I think that I have been conned?
ATM Boy is the story of a country barman who discovered he could take almost unlimited money from the ATM network of the National Australia Bank. Over four-and-a-half months, he stole $1.6 million and only stopped when his guilty conscience got the better of him. Two years later, the bank and the police had done nothing, so he asked me to write about his adventure as a way of resolving it. As a result of the publicity, Saunders got one year's jail and a fine of $250,000.
He's out of jail and he's still telling his story. People have asked me why he has confessed to the world what he did. All I can say is that part of Dan wanted to be punished and part of him wanted to celebrate the wildest ride of his life.
I know what Dan told me was true because I have the bank statements that show the outrageous spending on his credit card. What they don't show are the transfers of money in and out of his accounts, but there is no way a bank would allow you to max out your credit card to the tune of $1.6 million over four months if there weren't funds in your accounts, however briefly. There has clearly been some tidying up of the ledger by the bank.
What I'm less certain of is whether Dan stashed some of the loot away for when he got out of jail. I accept this is a reasonable question to outsiders. He could withdraw one cent less than a million bucks each day and he took only $1.6 million. Why would you not take millions more and hide it away overseas? You go through charade of confessing all to the media and copping a year's jail and a fine for your troubles. It still looks like the greatest personal loan in the history of banking but what if there was also a fortune awaiting you on your release?
Dan is inscrutable on this, pointing out there are numerous ways to hide money overseas like in casino accounts or sending in to hotels for instance. But he claims that there is nothing left — it all went on showing himself and his friends a good time.
Dan went to France recently which raised my suspicion. He sent me pictures of himself standing in front of flash hotels and yachts and tucking into ATM Boy-style five-star meals. As these pictures rolled in, I began to think back to a moment a year ago when Dan and I were discussing the film we are going to make of this adventure.
"How about this for an ending? ATM Boy does his time and pays his fine and then he goes overseas to the tropical island where all the people he partied with are waiting for him, to enjoy the loot he stashed away. Wouldn't that be great ending?" he said.
I looked at him hard for a moment and then said, "You mean to tell me that's what you're planning to do?"
He gave me this crooked smile and said, "Nah, nah, it's just all fiction for the film mate."
This little exchange did leave me scratching my head.
But he did come back from France and he's still working as a barman. He explained away the trip by saying you get a lot of frequent flyer points when you spend that much on your credit card.
So, for the moment, I will take ATM Boy him at his word, but maybe he's playing a long game. You be the judge.
— Hear my full story in my new podcast 'ATM Boy' with Adam Shand.