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How Did A Junk Mail Check Change Patrick Combs’ Life?

Several businesses in the United States use the whole junk mail check bit to catch the attention of their potential clients. But did you know that there is an individual who was able to encash the non-negotiable check?

Patrick Combs, a man from San Francisco, deposited a junk mail check that was written for about $95,000. He received the money and built an entire career of the fiasco.

How Was Patrick Combs Able to Deposit the Check in the First Place?

Patrick Combs received a non-negotiable check in the mail. These checks are meant as a teaser for certain businesses to encourage potential clients to join their venture. It was never meant to be deposited, but Combs thought it would be funny to give it a try.

It was a check, made out in my name, for $95,093.35 and it came in a junk-mail letter from a get-rich-quick company. It was worthless, meant only as a financial teast, a lip-licking come-on. “This is how much money you could soon be making.” What it was never meant for was deposit. But that’s exactly what made the thought of depositing it so irresistbly funny. What could possibly be funnier than depositing a perfectly ridiculous, obviously false, fake check? So, as a joke, I deposited the fake check into my bank’s ATM. I felt like a million bucks doing so. I’d never had so much fun at my bank. Come to think of it, I’d never had any fun at my banck until the moment I endorsed the back of this check with a smilely face and slipped the Monopoloy-like money into the mouth of the hungry ATM. For the first time ever, I walked away from my bank laughing.

Patrick Combs

Combs expected his bank to contact him immediately after the mistake had been made. He expected the bank also to find the situation funny. But they never contacted him, and he completely forgot about depositing the check in the first place. After five days of depositing the check, Combs used the ATM and found out that his balance was $95,093.35 higher than it was before. Apparently, the bank credited his account with the value of the fake check. (Source: SF Gate)

What Happened After the Patrick Comes Found the Money in His Account?

The issue should’ve ended there, and the bank’s error should have been rectified. But it was easier said than done. Combs phoned a friend who told him that it was not a mistake and that it is bank policy to credit the money into the account but put a hold on the funds until the check bounced after a certain number of days.

After a week, the funds were still in his account and were no longer on hold. Combs went to the bank teller and was informed that the money was indeed available for cash withdrawal, and all he had to do was ask. But Combs gave the bank another two weeks to catch up with their mistake. Several weeks later, he spoke with the bank manager about the funds and was told that it was safe for him to spend the money and that a check could not be bounced after ten days.

Unfortunately, the bank manager was wrong. There was no 10-day rule. It was a 24-hour rule. In the US, when a bank receives notice that a check is paid to your account, and 24 hrs have passed, you are safe to spend the money in the account. (Source: SF Gate)

Did the Bank Ever Find Out About the Mistake?

The bank eventually put two and two together, and this is where things took a turn for the worse. An agreement was made, and Combs was made to give back the money, and in return, he would get a letter from the bank stating that it was their error the entire thing took place. Combs was able to give the money back in October 1995. (Source: New York Times)

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