Crime & Courts

Wichita bank sues customer after ATM gave out $100s instead of $5s

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A Wichita bank is suing a local woman after it says she made more than 50 withdrawals last month from an ATM that was spitting out $100 bills in place of $5s.

Central National Bank is seeking return of $11,607.36 plus interest from Christina C. Ochoa of Wichita, according to a lawsuit filed Jan. 22 in Sedgwick County District Court. The bank contends Ochoa quickly realized the ATM wasn’t working like it was supposed to and calculated subsequent withdrawals to maximize the amount of cash it dispensed by mistake.

Ochoa’s mother, Christy L. Ochoa, is also named in the suit because she drove her daughter to the ATM, located at 4838 W. Central, to make the series of withdrawals, which stretched over a five-day period from Jan. 13 to Jan. 17. They were drawn on a Central National Bank checking account owned by Christina Ochoa.

The bank says the total amount of money the ATM should have dispensed to Christina Ochoa was $1,485.

But the machine gave her nearly 10 times that — $14,120.

“The first time the ATM dispensed more money that what was due Christina, Christina and Christy had a duty to return the surplus funds to the bank. ... Not only did they fail to (do) so, but they capitalized on the situation by making a series of over fifty (50) structured withdrawals, most within minutes of each other, and transacted at all hours of the night in order to expose Central to more loss,” the lawsuit says.

Reached by phone this week, the Ochoas deny wrongdoing and say they didn’t receive any more money from the ATM than was requested. Christy Ochoa said her daughter kept records of the withdrawals and didn’t receive any $100 bills.

“She had every transaction receipt,” she said. “My daughter never stole that kind of money.”

Asked why they went to the ATM more than 50 times in five days, Christy Ochoa said her daughter wanted $5 bills to craft a “money cake” as a gift for an acquaintance who’d just had a baby, and the bank wasn’t open to give her the exact number of fives she needed.

A “money cake” resembles a birthday cake but is made using rolled and folded paper bills.

“You can’t type in the number of fives you want at the ATM, so that’s why we did multiple transactions,” Christy Ochoa said.

The Ochoas said they couldn’t recall how many $5 bills were used to make the “money cake” for the acquaintance or what day it was given to her.

“If we had all that money, where did it go?” Christy Ochoa said.

The bank, in its lawsuit, says that when Christina Ochoa was making the withdrawals, “the ATM was not functioning properly and was dispensing one hundred dollar bills to customers when it should have been dispensing five dollar bills.” The lawsuit does not give details about how that happened or how many other customers might have received $100 bills rather than $5s.

Michael Munson, the attorney for Central National Bank, said he would not comment on the case because it’s pending litigation.

Of the more than 50 withdrawals Christina Ochoa made from the ATM, 38 were made between midnight and 4:08 a.m., court and bank records show. She deposited a total of $1,928 into her account using the ATM as she was making the series of withdrawals, records show. Christy Ochoa says that money was casino winnings from a recent trip.

When the bank became aware of the error and demanded Christina Ochoa return the overpayments, she “wholly refused to do so,” according to the lawsuit.

To recoup some of its loss, the bank kept the money that remained in Ochoa’s checking account after the ATM withdrawals, as well as $681.80 that was deposited by direct deposit on Jan. 30, the lawsuit says.

The bank also wants to confiscate a 2003 Chevrolet Venture minivan and a 2006 Dodge Ram Quad Cab truck that the Ochoas bought during the time the ATM wasn’t working properly.

The lawsuit says the $3,000 down payment the women gave Winfield Motor Co. for the truck “was made up entirely of one hundred dollars bills.”

Christy Ochoa said she and her daughter paid for the vehicles with student loan proceeds and settlement money from a car wreck.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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