Devon Gluck had just stepped up to an ATM in the Trabant University Center to withdraw a few bucks for the weekend when he noticed the machine was making strange noises. He paused, hesitant to insert his debit card.
And just like that, 18 $100 bills spat out.
The senior finance major at the University of Delaware stared at the cash.
“My eyes just opened really wide, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is $1,800 right here,’ ” Gluck said. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Gluck stood at the PNC ATM for a few seconds before instinct told him to take the money and figure out what to do later.
That was Feb. 1, four days before Gluck brought the money back after discussing the situation with his father.
“After a couple days of just thinking about it, the right thing would be just to return the money,” he said. “I mean, it was just eating at me at the time because it isn’t mine and I didn’t even know what to do with it.”
PNC spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel confirmed that a student had returned cash dispensed by the ATM. She also said that the student’s account from which the money was mistakenly withdrawn had been refunded.
Zwiebel said PNC could not comment on the details of the incident.
“Honesty is always the best policy when talking about money, and keeping money that you’re not authorized to have for any amount of time is unlawful,” she said.
Gluck wasn’t reprimanded, but thanked by the PNC branch manager when he explained the situation. Gluck, of Ellicott City, Md., said he thought of the potential repercussions of his actions – and the fact that it was not his money bothered him.
“I kind of just thought maybe I can get something good out of this,” he said. “I’ll definitely feel better, and I’m looking into going into banking and finance, so I felt like this was a good opportunity to meet someone, get a good reference and do the right thing.”
Thomas Powers, who directs the University of Delaware’s Center for Science, Ethics and Public Policy, said there are two ways of looking at such situations.
In the first, someone considers the possible consequences of his actions if they are found out. In the second, a person is guided by whether his actions are right or wrong.
“This kid shows that people are often a combination of those,” Powers said. “They take consequences into account, and obviously he felt a little bit of guilt – he must of thought there was some rule or principle there at stake.”