The $230 Million Nap

How many times have you dozed off and awakened with your face on the keyboard? Depending on what you’re working on, that can be a dangerous thing to do. In 2013, a German banker learned that the hard way. He was supposed to transfer €62.50 (about $85) from a bank account belonging to a retiree, which shouldn’t have been a big deal. However, the employee was tired and fell asleep on his keyboard, with his chin on the “2” key. When he woke up, he submitted the transfer but didn’t realize that he hadn’t typed €62.50, but had sleep-typed a series of twos. He had effectively submitted a bank transfer for the equivalent of $230 million. Oops! Fortunately, that wasn’t enough to make the transfer complete. Another employee was responsible for checking transfers, but even she wasn’t very thorough. A review of her work showed that she spent less than 1.4 seconds examining 603 payments. She had failed to catch the error and the $230 million transfer made its way through. An automated bank failsafe ultimately caught the error and reversed the transfer, and it’s a good thing for the bank that it did. German law prohibits banks from retrieving any money once it's paid to the recipient. There’s no word on what happened to the employee who sleep-transferred all that money, but his error-stopping colleague was fired for her failures. She, however, filed a complaint, saying that dismissal was too harsh a punishment and the court agreed. She got her job back, with a warning placed in her employee file in case something like this happens again.