Millionaire for a day

A computer drove a Frenchman to the brink of a nervous breakdown by making him a multi-millionaire and then rendering him penniless overnight. The hapless Frenchman, trapped in the heartless electronic signals of his bank’s computer, now risks prosecution under France’s tough dud cheque laws. The Paris Commercial Court heard how the computer ran amuck last summer and credited the account of the suburban book shopowner with a massive 6,140,000 francs (about Rs. 9 million). Once he had recovered from his surprise the man alerted the bank about the mystery millions. In a flash the computer took away the man’s new wealth, and then the trouble started. For the Frenchman was horrified to find all his cheques suddenly returned with the ominous “no funds” stamp on them. As passing dud cheques in France is a criminal offence the police were automatically informed. The book shopowner hastily consulted the bank which calmly told him that bank charges on the computer’s credit and debit operations were 22,822 francs (Rs. 34,200) and that his account was now empty. Nothing could be done, the bank told him, until the obstinate computer had finished its current programme, which was set for the next three months.

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