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Does money grow on trees? No, in an ATM

Barjora (Bankura), July 8: What is the full form of ATM? Automated teller machine. No silly, it is “anytime triple money”.

An ATM in Bankura turned into a cash cow yesterday, belting out almost triple the amount keyed in by customers.

Many people from Barjora and its neighbouring areas made a beeline for the United Bank of India ATM after word spread that a person had got Rs 2,600 although he had sought to withdraw Rs 1,000. The customer apparently tried his luck by keying in Rs 1,000 again and bingo: out came another Rs 2,600.

A senior UBI official said the agency entrusted with the responsibility of feeding cash into the ATM had kept Rs 500 notes in the tray assigned to Rs 100 notes and vice-versa.

“When a person withdraws Rs 1,000, usually he or she gets five Rs 100 notes and one Rs 500 note. As the denominations in the two trays had got interchanged, the customer at the Barjora ATM got five Rs 500 notes and one Rs 100 note, the amount adding up to Rs 2,600. So, many people got 2.6 times more than the amount they had keyed in,” the official said.

Asit Ghosh, the assistant general manger of the UBI’s Purulia region, said that between yesterday afternoon and 10pm, when the ATM kiosk at Barjora was sealed by police, an excess amount of Rs 3 lakh had been withdrawn.

Police sources said the first customer to have got the excess amount told his “friends” about it and soon, the word spread and many people rushed to the kiosk.

Residents, who refused to be identified, said the withdrawal slips mentioned the amount they had keyed in, not the excess cash they got.

Till late tonight, the bank and the police were studying footage from the CCTV camera in the ATM kiosk and the UBI’s IT section was checking data to trace the people who had taken out money from the machine yesterday.

The ATM had been refilled yesterday afternoon. The police arrived at the spot around 9.45pm after coming to know from their sources about the ATM and the rush among customers.

Sources in the local branch of the UBI said around Rs 3.5 lakh had been withdrawn within seven hours, adding that “never before had such a huge amount” been taken out of the kiosk, located in a rural area.

An employee of the local block development office who lives in the area said he saw a large number of people queued up in front of the ATM last night. “I found it unusual. I live in the neighbourhood, but had never before seen so many people outside the ATM at night. I asked one of them what was the matter. He told me more money was coming out of the ATM than the amount keyed in. I informed the police,” the man said.

A team from Barjora police station nearby rushed to the spot, sealed the ATM and informed the UBI authorities this morning.

“We closed the ATM kiosk soon after we got the information. We are yet to get any complaint or written communication from the UBI,” said Asit Samanta, the inspector-in-charge of Barjora police station.

Officials of the UBI, the agency responsible for feeding cash into the ATM and the police visited the kiosk today and began an investigation.

The UBI has show-caused the private agency. Ghosh, the UBI assistant general manager of the Purulia region, said the agency could be asked to pay compensation to the bank.