Bank glitch makes businessman a billionaire for five hours

By Keith Kohn The Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. — When Paul Fischer went to transfer money from one business account to another Friday night, he didn’t even look at the balance on the account as he completed the transaction.

At first.

Then Fischer, chief financial officer of the Windsor Group Inc., a jewelry concessionaire to Central Florida theme parks, noticed his company’s bottom line: $88,888,888,888.88 — nearly $89 billion.

That’s with a B.

He called SunTrust Bank to report the error in his favor.

“Can you imagine being a billionaire for a day?” he asked today.

Several people across the country can.

That’s because a glitch in SunTrust computers made it appear that billions of dollars were in some accounts, a company spokesman said. The money really wasn’t there, though.

“We have had reports of that today,” said spokesman Mike McCoy. He described the problem as a glitch and said the billions of dollars never were really in the Windsor Group account, or any of the others affected.

He said it didn’t appear anyone tried to transfer the money from the suddenly fat-with-cash accounts. “I’m not aware of that,” McCoy said.

Still, Fischer can keep dreaming. One store manager even suggested he fly out of the country and transfer the money offshore.

Fischer came up with another idea, asking a SunTrust account representative Friday night whether he could move the money to an interest-bearing account and then donate the interest to charities once the money was reclaimed by the bank. That would have amounted to about $7.3 million.

“She said no.”

“You say, ‘Eighty-eight billion, what can I do with that?’ “ Fischer said. “Maybe a handful of us could have brought down SunTrust Bank.”

Fischer said the company’s account had been stripped of its riches as of this morning. “It’s all gone. I’m poor again,” he said. “I was a billionaire for five hours.”

Back to the lottery, where Fischer today was buying a Play 4 ticket. The numbers — 8888, of course.