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Free cash. It sounds too good to be true. And for some customers of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney this week, it was.

When word got around the streets that some cash machines were giving out more money than customers were entitled to, queues began to form and people took advantage.

There was talk, according to one witness, that they were giving out "free money".

The bank later explained that an error had prevented the machines from properly identifying customer accounts, but that all transactions were correctly recorded and the bank would be pursuing the money.

But is it an offence to keep cash accidentally dispensed from a cash machine?

In England and Wales, it's pretty clear - it's not your money, says Mark Haslam, a criminal defence lawyer at BCL Burton Copeland in London.

"The only issue is what's going to be debited from your account, so if you ask for £10, they give you £100 and they debit £100, then it's yours.

"But if it's clearly a malfunction and it's dishing out money [without deducting it], and people come from miles around because word gets around quickly, then you're helping yourself knowingly and that's theft."

(the article waffles on a bit more after that)

Contact payment systems are going to be a regular old riot, eh?

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Hilarious article. :lol::lol::lol:

The 1968 Theft Act says: "A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it."

But UK banks don't always take a hard line.

No shit.

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Contact payment systems are going to be a regular old riot, eh?

Interesting point. I work in online gaming and repudiated transactions have been a massive problem (ie "I never done that bet guv, someone got old of me card").

Imagine what contact payment systems are going to be like? "Nah, my jeans just brushed against the desk".

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