Bank-Themed April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Sweating Silver Vault.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the New York Sub-Treasury vault, located on Pine Street, lured there by a rumor that the vault was "sweating" because of the warm weather, causing the silver contained inside it to exude through the marble walls. Specks of mica were pointed out in the walls to prove the theory. [New York Times, Apr 2, 1896.]
In Stellenbosch, South Africa, four masked men entered a bank, aimed water pistols at the staff, and declared, "This is a holdup. Hand over the cash."
The terrified teller handed over the money. The alarm went off. Then the men threw the cash back, shouted "April Fool" and fled the scene in a car.
Bogus Bank Robbery.
A 14-year-old Connecticut schoolboy walked into a bank during lunch and handed the teller a napkin, on which was written a demand for money. The teller handed him $600. The boy began to leave the bank, then turned around and handed the money back. Police later arrested him and sent him to a New Haven juvenile detention center. [Chicago Tribune - Apr 2, 1963]
When Linas Gylys noticed that the Continental Illinois Bank had accidentally credited his account with an extra $4,757,000, he waited until April 1st, then went into the bank and requested a certified check made out to one "John H. Perkins." Bank officials hurriedly escorted him into a back office, where they interrogated him for an hour. They only became friendlier when he revealed that the man accompanying him was a reporter, and that John H. Perkins, to whom the check would be made out, was the president of the bank.
The Danish Money Exchange.
On March 11, 1980, the National Bank of Denmark issued a 20 kroner banknote that featured a picture of two house sparrows. Curiously, one of the sparrows appeared to be one-legged. This inspired the Roskilde Tidende newspaper to run a story that year announcing that all bills with one-legged birds were fake, but that they could be exchanged at the post office for genuine bills depicting two-legged birds.
Lines at post offices soon became so long, with people eager to exchange their fake bills, that post office employees had to put notices on the doors explaining that no currency exchange was taking place.
The hoax was the brainchild of artist/cartoonist Jan Robert Thoresen. He was
Bank Teller Fees.
The Savings Bank of Rockville, a small, Connecticut-based bank, placed an ad in the Journal-Inquirer announcing that from that point forward it would be charging a $5 fee to customers who visited a live teller. The ad, which appeared on March 31, claimed that the fee was necessary in order to provide, "professional, caring and superior customer service." Although the ad was a joke, many customers did not perceive it as such. One woman reportedly closed her account at the bank because of it. The bank ran a second ad later revealing that the initial ad was a joke. The bank manager commented that the ad really "commits us to not charging such fees."
Zebra Savings Account.
The London Sunday Telegraph described an astonishing new savings account that guaranteed to pay the best rate available on the market at all times. The account was called a ZEBRA, short for Zero Energy Best Rate Account. It was being offered by the Hungarian bank Loof Lirpa, through its British subsidiary Lirpa UK. The bank was supposedly able to offer such a compelling rate because it used "a complicated mix of investment vehicles, including futures, options, swaps and pixies" (pixies, of course, are small, magical creatures, not investment vehicles). Thousands of people called the Sunday Telegraph seeking more information about this "trouble-free maximum-paying, no-risk investment."
Abbey National, a British bank, revealed an April Fool's Day joke that never came to fruition. It planned to offer its customers the ability to download and print money from their home computer. An Abbey National employee said, ""We were going to say that it would suit all those couch potatoes who don't want to go to the bank to get their money out. We would make available a system where you could download money from your personal computer and print it out on paper at home." However, the Bank of England, citing concerns about encouraging forgery, strongly advised Abbey National not to proceed with their joke.
Scratch’n'Sniff Credit Cards.
Virgin Money of Australia announced the introduction of barbecue-scented scratch'n'sniff credit cards:
"The scratched 'aroma' will embody the spirit of Australia, reminding owners of a freshly barbequed snag. Virgin Money expects the new card to be particularly popular amongst Aussies travelling overseas who are seeking a mouth-watering memento to remind them of home."
I’m Here To Take Money.
A 57-year-old woman stopped at a Wells Fargo Bank in Brainerd, Massachusetts to make a withdrawal. After concluding her transaction, as a joke she handed the teller a note that read, "I'm here to take money." The teller called the police and told them the bank was being robbed. By the time the police arrived, the woman had left, but they later picked her up and charged her with disorderly conduct.
Chip and Sing Cards.
The London Times reported that "Britain's banks are developing a system of credit card security that uses the voice's tonal range. Rather than needing to recall a PIN, you will need to remember a line of a song... Optical scans are too fallible, and standard voice recognition too easy to mimic electronically. But no two people sing the same way. Tills and cash dispensers are to have microphones."
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.