Personal Finance

An Indiana firefighter was waiting for his stimulus check, but found $8.2 million in his account instead

Key Points
  • The IRS began delivering stimulus checks this week to Americans as part of the largest federal rescue package in history to support individuals, families and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 
Charles Calvin's ATM receipt showing a bank balance of $8,200,000. Calvin's bank believes the error was due to the ATM, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported Monday. April 13, 2020.
The Times of Northwest Indiana

Charles Calvin went to a local ATM to see if he'd received the $1,700 government stimulus check he was waiting for. The figure he saw on his bank balance made him do a double take. 

"I went to the ATM at the Family Express, and once I withdraw $200 out of my account, I looked at the available balance that was still left in my account," Calvin, a volunteer firefighter in New Chicago, Indiana, told news station WGN9. 

"Apparently, my account had $8.2 million in it. I'm like, 'what in the world is going on here?'"

Calvin was in such disbelief that he brought his colleague, a fellow firefighter, to see it. "I ran the card again, and again $8.2 million. I said man, something is up with this," he said.

He went to the clerk at the gas station where the ATM was to ask if there was something wrong with the machine, but no issues had been reported, he recalled. 

"I showed her the receipt and she looks at the receipt, she looks at me, looks back at the receipt," he told NBC Chicago in a separate interview. "She said, 'You have this much money in your account?' I said, 'No, I am poor. I'm over here trying to get money out so I can pay my rent'."

Calvin took out $800 that he needed to pay his rent, but told NBC he then showed his ATM receipt to a friend who was a local police officer.

"When he looked at it he goes, 'Holy crap you've got 8,200,000?' I'm like, 'No man, I don't have that kind of money in my account'. He goes, 'Well don't touch it. If it is in there don't touch it. Call your bank Monday morning'."

That's just what Calvin did, and his millionaire status turned out to be short-lived — by the time he called his bank on Monday, the amount was no longer there. But the $1,700 check he'd been waiting for had been deposited. 

"Of course, it makes you pause and think what is going on if there is some kind of clerical error or what have you, they should be on top of it," Calvin told WGN9, wondering if the error was the fault of his bank, the ATM or the federal government.

Local newspaper the Northwest Indiana Times reported that Calvin's bank believes the error came from an issue with the ATM. 

"It kind of sucks you go from being a millionaire on paper one second then back to being broke again, but I guess once you're poor you ain't got nowhere else to go but up."

"You would never expect to see an available balance for $8.2 million unless you're Bill Gates or a Rockefeller or something like that," Calvin told NBC Chicago. "I wish there was $8.2 million in everybody's accounts."

VIDEO0:0100:01
How to determine eligibility for coronavirus stimulus check

The IRS began delivering stimulus checks this week to Americans who filed their taxes in 2018 and 2019, as part of the largest federal rescue package in history to support individuals, families and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown in many parts of the U.S. 

Payments amount to up to $1,200 per person for those making less than $99,000 annually or $2,400 per married couple (without children) making less than 198,000 annually, with an additional $500 for each child claimed as a dependent aged 16 or younger. 

More than 16 million Americans have filed unemployment claims so far, with many more expected in the coming weeks as lockdowns continue and officials grapple with the unpredictability of the virus and the question of when it might be safe to reopen parts of the economy. 

VIDEO2:3402:34
The three best ways to spend your coronavirus stimulus check