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Software Glitch Leads To $23,148,855,308,184,500 Visa Charges

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the what's-the-grace-period-again dept.

Bug 544

Hmmm2000 writes "Recently several Visa card holders were, um, overcharged for certain purchases, to the tune of $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 on a single charge. The company says it was due to a programming error, and that the problem has been corrected. What is interesting is that the amount charged actually reveals the type of programming error that caused the problem. 23,148,855,308,184,500.00 * 100 (I'm guessing this is how the number is actually stored) is 2314885530818450000. Convert 2314885530818450000 to hexadecimal, and you end up with 20 20 20 20 20 20 12 50. Most C/C++ programmers see the error now ... hex 20 is a space. So spaces were stuffed into a field where binary zero should have been."

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Hey (5, Funny)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708321)

Interesting? You're assuming we're all computer geeks. Wait a minute...

Re:Hey (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708599)

You're using a computer right now.

Re:Hey (3, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708637)

Joke's on you! I post via US Mail.

Re:Hey (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708797)

Welcome, visitor from the past! In this futuristic year of 2009, people who are not nerds are actually USING COMPUTERS! Also, WOMEN are allowed to VOTE and WEAR PANTS.

meh (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708337)

Meh. What's 23 quadrillion dollars really worth these days?

Re:meh (4, Funny)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708365)

Not much to us, but think of the children. They'll be paying it off for decades!

Re:meh (5, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708539)

Just hyper-inflate the dollar enough and you could spend 23 quadrillion on a bag of chips. Just look at Zimbabwe ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation_in_Zimbabwe [wikipedia.org] ) from the article "On January 16, 2009, Zimbabwe announced plans for imminent issue of banknotes of $10 trillion, $20 trillion, $50 trillion, and $100 trillion". So actually, its possible that the dollar could somehow inflate that high so 23 quadrillion isn't that much.

Re:meh (0, Redundant)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708571)

Sign in window: "Sorry, we only have change for $1 trillion bills"

Re:meh (4, Insightful)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708763)

Yeah, of course what happened after that was people started having to resort to bartering for goods using small amounts of Gold, Kinda like what they did TWO-Thousand years ago. So you take an economy and you screw it up so badly that you have to reset it back to the pre-roman levels of commerce.
.
And people laugh at other people for collecting and buying gold.

Re:meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708835)

Most people don't buy gold. They invest in gold. Until you have shiny yellow metal in your possession, you only have a piece of paper certifying a value, just like money.

Re:meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708621)

In the US or Zimbabwe?

Re:meh (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708623)

About one triganic pu [wikipedia.org] . But most markets refuse to deal with fiddling small change.

lol (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708343)

lol

At least it wasn't EBCDIC (4, Funny)

sheepweevil (1036936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708361)

In EBCDIC, hex 40 is a space. Making this error if EBCDIC was used would make the charge a whopping $4,629,771,061,636,895,312 - 4 quintillion dollars!

Re:At least it wasn't EBCDIC (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708393)

Yeah, well -- if they were still using COBOL this wouldn't have happened.

Now get off my lawns!

Re:At least it wasn't EBCDIC (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708777)

Yeah, I'd hate to be overcharged by -2^63 dollars! That would be tragic!

Re:At least it wasn't EBCDIC (1)

Electrawn (321224) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708399)

Good god, if Visa is still using a Unisys V Series and Burroughs terminals.... I'm switching to Mastercard!

Re:At least it wasn't EBCDIC (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708511)

Good god, if Visa is still using a Unisys V Series and Burroughs terminals.... I'm switching to Mastercard!

Excellent. Now please wait while we calculate your interest with an abacus.

Re:At least it wasn't EBCDIC (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708647)

That would be a really large abacus run by a team of shackled slaves being whipped by a leather clad master.
So pretty much like any IT shop.

Re:At least it wasn't EBCDIC (2, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708411)

One big ASCII charge!

of course they didn't reverse interest charges... (1)

random coward (527722) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708369)

So now the interest charges for the month based on average daily balance will be quit a lot.

Re:of course they didn't reverse interest charges. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708503)

Yeah at 19% annually it would be 12050089064534.39, like a trillion a day.

Re:of course they didn't reverse interest charges. (2, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708583)

Seriously though the Visa transaction charge of 2% = 462,977,106,163,690
How could this transaction go through?

Re:of course they didn't reverse interest charges. (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708691)

Probably the transaction charge was handled in another sub-routine and was correctly handled.

Extremely speculative. (2, Insightful)

Marillion (33728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708371)

While all this is plausible, of course, the 12 is octal for a UNIX newline and the 50 is the '@' symbol; let us not forget that there are a lot of assumptions being made here and a lot of speculation.

Re:Extremely speculative. (2, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708469)

Yeah, but the data definition conundrum "space fill or zero fill" is pretty persuasive in this case. Or at least a damn interesting coincidence.

Re:Extremely speculative. (2, Interesting)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708641)

Then why didn't it happen uniformly, on all charges? Unless the posting function for 12 50 ($46.88) is different from the posting function for every other amount?

Re:Extremely speculative. (3, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708781)

Might be because the code (like a lot of code) is braindead in other, unimaginable ways?

Octal? Piffle. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708769)

That was not an "insightful" comment. WTF does it matter what a couple of hex digits mean in octal? What would you have said if it was 12 80? A field that should have held a binary large integer getting filled with ascii characters makes sense; a field that gets filled not with the binary representation of the ascii characters, but to suggest that some process would take the octal representation of those characters, discard the most significant digit and then pack them into hex nibbles (a kind of BCO - binary coded octal representation) is ludicrous.

The 12 50 is just an artifact of the number being rounded to the nearest $100 by the journalists reporting the story. Check it out; if you assume they were actually 20 20, you get an amount somewhere around $35-$36+some small change over the $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 figure mentioned.

Minimum (5, Funny)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708391)

So what was the minimum payment on that?

Re:Minimum (4, Funny)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708533)

$5. But if they've got any sense they'll pay the whole thing off straight away to avoid the interest.

Re:Minimum (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708645)

Tell that to the US Gov...

or the OTC fee if.. (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708663)

just imagine what the Over-the-Credit Limit fee would be if it were based on a percentage instead of the typical $39.

man....wonder if that counts as an automatic default...and thus 29.99% of that would be....holyshit

Sounds about right. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708397)

Looks like the Chinese are buying the rest of the solar system after owning the USA.

Not an error (5, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708401)

This is how Obama is paying for health care.

Re:Not an error (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708459)

This is how Obama is paying for health care.

By adding a 0.003% tax on all visa transactions?

Re:Not an error (1)

Saliegh (1368127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708813)

Why does this make me think of Superman 3?

I agree, Video has proof. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708531)

CICNA chief tells all. [crooksandliars.com]

What about Unicode? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708415)

dang programmers still using ANSI/ASCII. They should have stuffed 20 00 in there (Unicode). Or depending on processor type (big-endian vs. little-endian) that could be 00 20. But still, just 20 20 20 shows they are using ASCII.

Re:What about Unicode? (1)

Co0Ps (1539395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708453)

Wrong. It could also be UTF8 which is a Unicode encoding.

Re:What about Unicode? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708749)

Yep. UCS-2 is the tool of the devil. It's consistent, sure, but it's a heckuva waste if you've got a lot of strings that are mostly ASCII. Microsoft uses it for their APIs since forever, and Python uses it internally, but these are low-level situations where consistent and fast encoding/decoding are valuable. Most of the rest of the world (the parts that use a Latin-based character set, anyway) have standardized on UTF-8. You'd be pretty crazy to lard up a database that's 99% English text with UCS-2.

Re:What about Unicode? (1)

O'Nazareth (1203258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708723)

Unicode needs at least 18 bits, which does not fit into 16. UTF-16 is pretty useless. Maybe UTF-32 is more logical so you never have escape sequences. But to save space, in general UTF-8 is a lot better.

So what's the big deal? (5, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708417)

Isn't that about the cost of a couple of packs of smokes and a bag of chips at one of those gas station stores? If he filled up the truck, too...well, that would just about account for it.

Dude should shut up and pay what he owes.

Re:So what's the big deal? (3, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708725)

The "sin" tax on those smokes must have been part of the new anti-smoking bill.

That, or the president thinks the best way to prevent him from ever smoking again is to never be able to afford one.

stack garbage (1)

cockpitcomp (1575439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708425)

variable used before set

But type to get them to admit their software made a mistake when it happens to your account and it will be like talking to a brick.

Not pr0n then? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708435)

So they weren't getting multiply charged by a site that claimed to only charge once, and only if you cancelled after the trial period, even though you can cancelled before the end of the trial period. Just spaces huh, who would have though?

Yes I am ashamed I signed up innocently, now realising torrents are far safer.

The Aftereffect? (2, Interesting)

greatica (1586137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708443)

If I remember correctly, my credit card bounces into "crap customer mode" when certain activity like overcharges (or nonpayment) occur. This ups my interest rate permanently from 6% to something silly like 20%.

If this happens, I wonder how many people will be relieved to have the charges reversed, only to be upset next month when their rate is hiked.

Re:The Aftereffect? (1)

greatica (1586137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708513)

err, scratch that...prepaid.

Sensationalist article (5, Funny)

Xoltri (1052470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708467)

He also felt a stab of fear that he had saddled all his unborn grandchildren -- and their grandchildren -- with a lifetime of debt. "Down the generational line, nobody would have any money."

Give me a break.

Re:Sensationalist article (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708535)

anyone who sees a 23 quadrillion dollar charge on their visa bill and thinks that should not be allowed to have children.

Stupidity is evil!

Re:Sensationalist article (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708823)

Exactly! Everyone should know that credit card debt is unsecured! Your heirs don't have any obligation to pay off your credit card bills!

Re:Sensationalist article (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708785)

Funny how he's not thinking about how this error could (and should) make him rich. No court would side with the company over the victim, and he could claim any damages he'd like -- he'd win, simply on the fact that the company gave him a $BIGNUM bill and didn't *immediately* acknowledge and correct the error.

Visa just testing their systems for hyperinflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708477)

Lets hope they didn't underestimate.

Wrong Currency? (0, Redundant)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708479)

The number seems about right for Zimbabwe dollars.

What is truly appalling... (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708485)

...is that this was not caught by validity checks. Was this perhaps an error that affected only the printing of the statement?

Re:What is truly appalling... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708683)

No, it wasn't just the output. People were charged overlimit fees in addition to the erroneous amount.

triggered an overlimit fee, as I recall (1)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708697)

I saw this earlier on another site which included a screen-cap, wherein there was a $20 Negative Balance Fee shown after the huge erroneous charge, so it would seem that it did trigger issues on the business logic level.

The Sad Thing... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708521)

Is not so much the error(stupid; but, if corrected, not ultimately a giant deal); but the response of the cardholder to the error:

"The bank kept him on hold for two hours, during which time he contemplated the impossibly bleak financial future that might await him. He also felt a stab of fear that he had saddled all his unborn grandchildren -- and their grandchildren -- with a lifetime of debt. "Down the generational line, nobody would have any money."

For fuck's sake, people, the credit card guys haven't actually bought a law concerning hereditary debt slavery yet, and this guy thinks that it is already on the books?

Muszynski compared the giant debt reprieve to receiving "an amazing Monopoly card that says, 'Bank error in your favor.' "

Pathetic. This guy is grateful that Visa condescended to fix their obvious mistake(this isn't some he said/she said billing dispute, this is someone who allegedly spent more than the world GDP at a gas station)? What is this cringing bullshit? Either this guy is just a sad sack or, rather worse, the "customer service" we get, along with the kangaroo courts that are "mandatory binding arbitration" actually make thankfulness for not being screwed a reasonable response.

Re:The Sad Thing... (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708591)

Anything more then "Huh, what an odd error" and you really need to check your reality.

On the plus side you might be able to leverage:
Hey, if Visa lends me 23 quintillion dollar, surely I'm good for another 100 billion.

Re:The Sad Thing... (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708695)

The huge number even has the advantage of being highly noticeable.

Much worse to get screwed for $150 and not realize it than have to call your bank and tell them that their computer puked.

Does binding arbitration suck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708711)

For credit card customers? Yes, it normally sucks. However, if the credit card company went after you FOR 23-QUADRILLION DOLLARS, even a pro-business Arbitrator would camel-rape them with a johnson the size of Saturn.

Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708523)

Still, isn't it funny how these kinds of "computer glitches" always seem to benefit the company, never the customer? Pretty interesting odds at play here.

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708607)

Not true. I have personally gotten the better end of the deal at least twice. But no one wants to stand up and say 'I bought a new stereo and was charged -$250 dollars!'. There have also been numerous published accounts of gas stations mistakenly charging hundreds of people $0.25/gal for gas (instead of $2.50).

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708611)

Your biased.
Look it up, there ahve been many glitches on both sides of the fence. People getting account credited with too much money, checks getting sent for 100million times the amount that should actually be made.

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708617)

Do you really think a customer would report a monetary account error in their favor?

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708627)

That's because no customers who would benefit from something like this would want to publicize the error, and lose their ill-gotten gains.

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708675)

No, you hear about people getting large checks and returning them.

I wouldn't return it right away, I would stuff it into a short term account, and draw interest until they asked for it...in writing, .and within 60 days.

Hey, they don't like it we can battle it out in court.

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

asolidvoid (964293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708633)

But just think of all the frequent flier miles that the customers just accrued!

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708685)

What part of this benefits VISA? It makes them look like morons and costs them a a whole bunch extra in customer support calls - both from people directly effected and others who want to play the 'I've lost confidence in your ability to report my bill correctly' card. If you mean billing errors tend to favour companies, consider that most billing errors in a customers favour (whether they're discovered or not) won't be publicised - unless they're huge and rare like this one.

Re:Yeeeaaaaahh... (1)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708747)

The only time I've heard of the glitch that favoured the consumer is when they are on a man hunt to find the family that ran away with the $100 million that suddenly popped up in their bank account.

Sorry but........ (2, Insightful)

S7urm (126547) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708849)

Lemme debunk a myth real quick for you folks.

If you EVER see a bank error "in your favor" or if your payroll check is off and you are over paid.......DO NOT SPEND THE MONEY

You will be charged for what you owe, and in some circumstances you can be prosecuted for using money that "was reasonably evident that you did not earn"

C/C++ programmers (0, Troll)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708525)

I am ruby programmer so i didn't understand what caused those numbers. somebody please explain.

Re:C/C++ programmers (2, Funny)

Arakageeta (671142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708609)

0x20 is "space" in ASCII. The ASCII table maps numerical values to (mostly) readable characters. Unicode is a buffed out table supporting international (and other) characters. The programmers forgot to strip the whitespace from their input.

Re:C/C++ programmers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708837)

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

I can hear the radio ads now (5, Funny)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708529)

"Do you owe $23 quadrillion or more on your credit cards? Well I'm about to tell you a secret that the credit card companies don't want you to know. You can settle your debt for pennies on the dollar and get out of debt fast!"

Been there (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708543)

I must've put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail.

Zimbabwe (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708547)

Maybe they ran it through the Zimbabwe exchange conversion by mistake.

It's a Trap! (1)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708549)

Leave, now!

Re:It's a Trap! (4, Funny)

oatworm (969674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708765)

Our credit score cannot repel debt of that magnitude!

Okay. The spaces make sense... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708559)

But that 12 50 seems a little odd. That would be either "[DLE] P", or $46.88 which seems a lot for a packet of cigs.

Re:Okay. The spaces make sense... (1)

El Gigante de Justic (994299) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708751)

If he also purchased gasoline, or purchased an entire carton of cigarette's that price could be accurate.

The article states that the gas station was his normal stop for cigarette's but doesn't state that the transaction in question only included cigarettes, so really, he could have bought anything.

That's a lot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708569)

For that money you could download dozens of MP3s via your US mobile phone while in Canada, and still have money left to pay the RIAA.

Will the IRS tax any party for this in any way tip (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708587)

Will the IRS tax any party for this in any way tipped workers look out you may end up owning 15% of $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 of the bill even if this is a error yes the IRS is evil like that some times like that.

Will people get back billed / end up on a baned list as visa seems to be whipping out the full charge is the real charge lost now?

Will people get all there overdrafts taken off or just one even if they are not at error for all of them.

Re:Will the IRS tax any party for this in any way (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708693)

Or bette, will there credit reflent that they paid back 23 quintillion dollars? The should max your rating, forever~

oblig... (2, Funny)

nih (411096) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708595)

I always mess up some mundane detail :(

Re:oblig... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708643)

I got there first! I did something today!

I always do that (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708605)

I always miss some mundane little detail

Debt--American Dream (2, Funny)

tmosley (996283) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708635)

If I were him, I would have applied for a bailout, then gave myself a nice hefty bonus before going bankrupt.

It's the American Dream!

m$vb (1)

amnezick (1253408) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708665)

This has to be a VB code

Dim sum as String * 8

' Any VB programmer knows that VB will auto fill the String*n variable with n-Len(sum) spaces. Notice the pun on "dim sum".

' Let's see how many VB programmers are there around here ...

The Money that was created by this error.... (1, Funny)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708721)

The money that was created out of thin air by this error is no more invalid than the trillions of dollars of Fiat currency that the Government forces down everyone's throat.
.
Nixon was an absolute bastard for getting us off of the Gold Standard.
.
Now money should not be backed by just one precious metal, but should be backed may various different precious metals and maybe some other precious resources. Full faith and credit is a joke.
.
Hey maybe they should give this guy a gold metal, because he could have single handedly used his debit card to pay off all out debts like Stan did in "Margaritaville".
.

reassuring... (4, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708737)

It's good to know their system is able to handle $23 quadrillion charges, now I just need to get them to raise my limit a bit.

Signed or Unsigned? (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708739)

Is anybody else wondering what you would get to spend and turn the charge into a negative?

th,is is goat5sex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708745)

munches the most Its co8pse turned

Only Notice Large Glitches (5, Insightful)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708755)

Probably more offensive is that a glitch happened at all, large or small. It could have just as easily been $2.31 in which case he may have not noticed the overcharge and paid it. Charge several thousand people $2.31 too much and you can make an alright profit.

probably was an offshore mistake..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28708759)

so much for that contract.

This could explain a lot. (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708773)

Back in my college days in the early nineties, I had a debit account to which my parents deposited a modest monthly stipend, you know, student budget for weekday ramen and weekend beers. BTW, this was in Mexico.
One day, while using the ATM, I was startled to see a HUGE balance in my account, to the tune of billions or more, I can't remember how much. Of course I went back to the ATM the following day just to check the balance, and it was back to normal.
When it happened again the following week, just for the hell of it I withdrew a bit more than I had. Of course, next day my account reflected the negative balance. The huge balance repeated itself a couple more times during the span of a month, then it was gone and never occurred again.

Years later, while casually commenting on this to a couple of friends, one of them said the same thing had happened to her, but her account was in a different bank.
For a long time, I've thought that people within the system used the ATM grid to embezzle money, moving it through accounts to cover their tracks. But now I'm starting to suspect it may have just been buggy programming.

Nothing to see here, keep moving along please... (4, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708809)

I work in this industry. The only novelty here is that the error got into production, and was not caught and corrected before it went that far.

Submitters send files to processors which are supposed to be formatted according to specifications.

Note I wrote 'supposed to be'.

Some submitters do, from time to time, change their code, and sometimes they get it wrong. For instance padding a field with spaces instead of zeros. Woopsie...!

Seems that's what happened here. Sounds like a hex or dec field got padded with hex 20, and boom.

This is annoying, especially when the processor gets to help correct the overwhelming number of errors, and then tries to explain that it wasn't their fault. Plenty of blame to go around with this one.

And then explains why they don't both validate/sanitize input, and test for at least some reasonable maximum value in the transaction amount. A max amount of $10,000,000 would have fixed this. That and an obvious lapse in testing. This is what keeps my bosses awake sometimes, fearing they will end up on the front page of the fishwrap looking stupid 'cause their overworked minions screwed something up, or didn't check, or didn't test very well. I love one of the guys we have testing. He's insufferable, and he catches genuine show-stoppers on a regular basis. They can't pay him what he's been worth, literally $millions, just in avoiding downtime and re-working code that went too far down the wrong path.

Believe me, this is in some ways preferable to getting files with one byte wrong that doesn't show up for a month, or sending the wrong data format (hex instead of packed binary or EBCDIC, for instance) and crashing the process completely. Please, I know data should never IPL a system. Tell it to the architects, please. As if they don't know now, after the one crash...

If you knew what I know, you'd chuckle and share this story with some of your buddies in development and certification.

And pray a little.

At least it didn't overbill the cardholders by $.08/transaction. That would suck. This is easy by comparison. Just fix the report data. Piece of cake. Evening's worth of coding and slam it out in off-peak time. Hahahahaha!

My question... (5, Funny)

T-Bucket (823202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708829)

Does he still get the airline miles for that one? I mean, even at 1 mile per dollar spent.... He can now book a first class ticket to mars...

Visa Rewards? (5, Funny)

WTSane (1371365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28708843)

I hope it was on one of the cards that gives him 1% cash back.
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