Heists and Holdings: 45 Fascinating Facts About Banks and Their Robberies

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An investment bank (Sandler O’Neill & Partners) that lost 66 employees on 9/11 has paid the college fees of 54 children of their fallen co-workers.

2. British banking giant HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), but there were no criminal charges and no one went to prison.

3. A “bank robber” named James Verone robbed $1 from a bank so that he could be sent to prison and receive proper medical care. He handed the teller a note demanding a dollar and then waited calmly on a sofa for police to arrive.

4. Banks have therapists known as 'wealth psychologist' who help ultra-rich clients who are unable to mentally cope with their immense wealth.

5. In 1948, a man named Sadamichi Hirasawa robbed a bank in Tokyo by pretending to be a public health official. He gave a fatal dose of cyanide to all 16 people in the bank under the pretense of a routine dysentery inoculation.

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6Emmanuel Nwude

Emmanuel Nwude

A gang of Nigerian scammers led by a man named Emmanuel Nwude sold a fake airport to a major international bank for $242 million in 1997. The scam wasn’t discovered till 3 years later.

7. In 1995, a man named McArthur Wheeler robbed two banks in Pittsburgh after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink, it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras. He was caught later that day.

8. Bank of America once foreclosed a home owned by a couple by mistake, who went on to sue the bank and won a judgment for $2500 in Legal expenses. When the bank didn't pay them, the couple showed up at the bank with a moving company, a deputy, and a writ allowing them to start seizing furniture and cash.

9. There is a single ATM in Antarctica, operated by Wells Fargo Bank. It takes Wells Fargo ten months to prepare to service its ATM, and the employee sent must undergo a psychological evaluation in case they are stranded in Antarctica when flights are canceled for the season.

10. In 2016, a Kansas man named Lawrence John Ripple robbed a bank and then waited in the lobby, later telling the investigators he'd rather be in jail than with his wife.

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11Willie Sutton

Willie Sutton

Sutton’s Law states that when diagnosing, one should consider the obvious. It is named after the famous American bank robber, Willie Sutton, who when asked ‘Why do you rob banks?’ replied, ‘Because that’s where the money is.’

12. A man was able to steal $10 million from a bank because its employees kept an important bank code on a post-it on the wall.

13. Catalan activist Enric Duran took out 68 loans from a total of 39 banks between 2006-2008, with no collateral, and no intention of repaying, and used the money to finance activist movements, as an act of 'financial civil disobedience.'

14. English broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson once published his bank account number and sort code to prove that the information couldn't be used to steal money. Someone used it to set up a monthly direct debit from his bank account to a charity.

15. In the 1972 United California Bank Heist, the robbers made away with $30 million in cash. They carefully covered their tracks by wiping down everything in their townhouse before they left. However, they forgot to start the dishwasher and therefore their fingerprints were found on dirty dishes.

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16$50 million

$50 million

In 2006, Bank of America had someone jailed for inquiring about the legitimacy of a check. The uproar cost Bank of America $50 million worth of withdrawals from irate customers.

17. In 2014, a Swiss Bank deposit vault filled with hundreds of Swiss coins was sold. It has been described as "the perfect gift for a real life Scrooge McDuck."

18. After committing a $5.4 million bank heist, Japanese robbers penned a thank-you note to the bank.

19. The Bank of Oklahoma building in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a half-size replica of the World Trade Center buildings. It was designed by the same architect and completed 3 years after World Trade Center.

20. In 2014, $1 billion (12% of Moldovan GDP) were swindled from 3 Moldovan banks. The mastermind of the scam, a man named Ilan Shor, who was a chairman of one of the banks, was elected as the Mayor of a district in Maldova in 2015.

21Emmett Dalton

Emmett Dalton

On October 5, 1892, the Dalton Gang rode into Coffeyville, Kansas, and attempted two simultaneous bank robberies. Townspeople recognized the outlaws and surrounded the banks. All gang members were shot and killed except for Emmett Dalton, who served 14 years in prison and then became a Hollywood writer.

22. The Bank of England produces banknotes named “giant” and “titan”, worth £1 million and £100 million respectively, used exclusively within the banking system.

23. In 2016, a man tried to rob a bank after paying $500 to a wizard to make him invisible. Thinking no one could see him, he strolled into a bank in Tehran and started snatching money out of people’s hands.

24. Big banks don't process checks and debit card charges to your account in the order they are received, but instead, use a computer program that selects the biggest amounts first and charges them against your account; emptying your account faster and resulting in more overdraft fees (profit).

25. A 9-year-old boy robbed a New York bank in 1981 and got away with $118.

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