Catastrophic Bank Glitch Allows People to Withdraw Millions From Their Accounts

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Mar 27, 2024

A bank glitch in Ethiopia has allowed people to withdraw large amounts of money from their bank accounts. According to reports, a frenzy ensued when people learned that they could take out a lot of money from nearby ATMs.

These people didn’t actually have this mass amount of money in their bank accounts. However, various ATMs around Ethiopia allowed this to occur for a few hours.

Students Withdraw Millions

New reporting has revealed that people around Ethiopia were able to withdraw large amounts of money from their bank accounts — money that these people did not have. However, a catastrophic bank glitch allowed this to happen.

A person puts money back in their wallet in front of an ATM.

Source: Nick Pampoukidis/Unsplash

Though it appears various ATMs around the country were hit with this glitch, it mainly affected students who had accounts with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE).


£31 Million Was Withdrawn

These students ended up withdrawing more than £31 million in the few hours that this bank glitch allowed customers to take out more money than they actually had in their accounts.

A person fans out one hundred dollar bills in their hands.

Source: Alexander Mils/Unsplash

According to one student who attends Dilla University, many students were able to extract large sums of money from about midnight to 2 a.m.

The Word Spread Quickly

Students who spoke to reporters were able to describe the scene that occurred once the word spread about the bank glitch. The news of this malfunction quickly spread from student to student through messaging apps.

A person holding their phone and touching the screen.

Source: Andrej Lišakov/Unsplash

This then led to mass amounts of people going to campus ATMs. During these few hours, long queues could be seen around these machines.

People Were in Disbelief

When many of these students first heard the news of this bank mishap, they were in disbelief. They couldn’t believe it could be true — that they could take out a large sum of money they didn’t have.

A person walking down the stairs to a station in Ethiopia.

Source: Daggy J Ali/Unsplash

One Jimma University Institute of Technology student explained he didn’t believe what everybody was saying until he saw it on the news.

The Police Were Notified

Once news of this bank mistake became public among students, it eventually spread to the bank itself and the police. The police were notified of the technical circumstances, and many showed up at ATMs on campuses in response.

A bird’s eye view of the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, seen in the evening under a darkening sky.

Source: Sintayehu Arega/Unsplash

However, that didn’t necessarily sway everyone away from these ATMs. Some reporting states that students were still taking out money from these machines even after the police showed up.


Police Arrived on Campus

To try to quell the large number of students trying to withdraw money they didn’t have, many police officers arrived on various campuses around Ethiopia. Many also were encouraged to return the money they had taken out.

An up-close look at the blue lights on top of a police vehicle.

Source: Max Fleischmann/Unsplash

One student stated that police were outside Jimma University after this bank glitch occurred. However, this specific student didn’t know anybody who actually gave the money back.


The Bank’s Response

The CBE responded to this mishap by stating they had frozen all transactions. However, some local reporters discovered that this glitch wasn’t solved for several hours.

A close-up of a brown card holder with three different cards in it.

Source: Stephen Phillips -

Therefore, some ATMs may have been allowing bank customers to withdraw mass amounts of money well past the midnight to 2 a.m. period other students experienced.


The CBE Tries to Reassure Customers

The CBE also released a statement in an attempt to try to reassure all of their customers. As the CBE is Ethiopia’s biggest bank, many people had concerns about this mishap.

A black and white photo of an ATM.

Source: Johnyvino/Unsplash

Abe Sano, the president of the bank, addressed these worries. “There have been attempted cyber attacks but the bank’s cyber security was not compromised,” Sano said in a press statement.


People’s CBE Accounts

A common concern among CBE customers had to do with all the money taken out of the bank — millions that these students seemingly didn’t have in their accounts. However, Sano also reassured the bank’s customers.

A person in front of a black and white ATM.

Source: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

Sano stated that customers shouldn’t be worried about their accounts. According to the bank president, the loss experienced during the glitch was a small amount compared to all of the bank’s total assets.


Bank Encourages Returns

Sano and the CBE as a whole have encouraged customers and students to return the money they withdrew during the glitch. If they return this money, they will not be charged with any criminal offenses.

A person points their card holder back in a pocket on the inside of their jacket.

Source: Clay Banks/Unsplash

Three universities have also encouraged their students to return the money they may have taken out during this time.


No Clear Indication of Returns

So far, there has been no clear indication of whether people are returning the mass amounts of money they withdrew during this bank glitch.

A close-up of a person’s hands as they hold a card and use an ATM machine.

Source: Giovanni Gagliardi/Unsplash

There has been at least one report of students willingly returning this money. At Dilla University, bank employees arrived on campus and collected money some students voluntarily decided to return.