China ATM Glitch Nets Man Life

After withdrawing free money, man found guilty of bank robbery
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2008 11:56 AM CST
A visitor tries out one of the latest automated-teller machines at banking exhibition in Beijing 13 September 2007.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – It seemed like a miracle to Xu Ting of Guangzhou: a misplaced decimal point somewhere in the bowels of an ATM meant that his $140 withdrawal debited his account only 14 cents. Over several hours he made another 170 transactions, pocketing more than $24,000. But after getting robbed and buying lottery tickets, he ended up in court—where he was sentenced to life imprisonment for bank robbery, writes the Los Angeles Times.

Xu's harsh sentence has led to uncommon public outcry that has netted him a retrial. An Internet survey revealed that 93% of respondents would have taken the money. Many feel that the judiciary favors banks, despite frequent overcharges and widespread counterfeit bills. "Never let a bank suffer a cent of loss, otherwise it will sue you," complained one observer. "If you're lucky, you'll go bankrupt, if not, beheaded."