For four months, Dan Saunders had it all, if ‘all’ constitutes the desires of your average would-be bachelor: caviar, private jets, designer clothing, anything that impresses potential partners.
There was only one problem with his millionaire lifestyle. He’d earned none of it.
Saunders had simply struck lucky one day at a cash machine. Really lucky.
At the time, 29-year-old Dan was working a £500-a-week bar job when chanced upon a cash point that could withdraw money from his credit card without being charged when the machines were ‘offline.’
Altogether he drew out £1,000,000 over the next four months and set about living a life of Riley.
The Wangaratta, Australia native told the Sun:
I tried to get £250 and then £300 just to see what would happen and it kept giving me the money. It was 1am in a country town so there was nowhere open to spend it.
I think it was a combination of being tipsy and bored, but I just kept doing it again and again, it was like a magic trick.
Being able to withdraw hundreds with the stroke of a key was a very addictive thing – I felt like a caveman discovering fire.
He went back the next night and discovered that if he went between midnight and 1am he could withdraw as much money as he wanted as the machine wasn’t connected to the server. Shockingly, his bank were none the wiser.
Saunders was soon fired from his job for a rising gambling habit and split up with his girlfriend. He then truly embarked on a life of luxury, throwing wild parties with high class escorts. In order to keep his lifestyle protected, he told people he was an investment banker.
At his most wild, he bought a flight in a 20-seat private jet, packed with all his mates and flew to an island near Bali.
I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was, but I didn’t need a passport to get there. We were in the air for about three hours and had filled the plane up with people.
It was a mix of old friends and new faces. We hired the whole resort, the over-water villas and ate and drank there.
I opened the book on anything – people just gave me their dreams and I fulfilled them.
Saunders soon began experiencing panic attacks over the prospect of getting caught out, explaining:
I think there was a small part of me wanted it to end but I was past the point of no return, my life had changed dramatically.
One night I had a nightmare that the SWAT team was out the front of the hotel room I was staying in. I remember waking up in a pool full of sweat, realising that it was just a dream and then hotel doorbell rang. I was like ‘that’s it, I’m gone. They’re coming to get me’, which actually would have been a relief – but it turned out to be the maid asking if I’d like fresh towels.
One therapist eventually advised Saunders to turn himself in. He didn’t have to, police arrested himself on 111 counts related to fraud and theft.
The court case was weird because no one actually understood what I did: not the judge, not the prosecutor, it was very odd.
There were many blank looks; the bank provided minimal evidence so it was really just a case of ‘bad Dan and that’s it….case closed. They even played the Current Affair interview in the court room as evidence. It was surreal.
I just sat back and pleaded guilty and sort of let it all unfold in front of me. It was the oddest set of circumstances I have ever witnessed.
In May 2016, he left jail after one year inside. Today he works in a bar again, getting £12.50 an hour.
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