Michael and Heather Stone’s routine for paying their household bills usually meant the second Thursday evening around the dining room table with a pizza, a couple of cans of beer, and Heather’s laptop. Neither of them enjoyed the monthly ritual, but in recent years since they became “empty nesters” they’ve made the best of the chore.
Heather logged into their on-line account using their bank’s secure internet server.
“Honey, could you come over here and take a look at something? I don’t understand this,” she said to Michael who was opening the checkbook in preparation for writing the few checks he’d need to write to cover the bills they weren’t able to pay on line.
“What was that you needed?” he finally asked.
“Come here, just look at this and tell me what you think this means.”
Michael peeked over at Heather’s laptop screen and noticed she had the monthly statement of their checking account opened. “This has to be some kind of a joke,” he said. “Somebody hacked in and thought posting that $999,999.00 was deposited into our account would be amusing. Look, it even shows the source as ANNOYMOUS.”
“So what do we do about it?” Heather asked.
“We’ll go to the bank first thing tomorrow morning and sort it out. In the mean time, just subtract the $999K from the balance and we’ll pay our bills the same as always.”
Heather tapped away and said, “The gas was $23 and you can also write a check for $22 to cover the trash and water. That should do it.”
“How are we looking with the mortgage?” asked Michael as he tore off a completed check and stuffed it into its preprinted envelope.
“Just under ten years and it is ours. We’ll be able to finally take that cruise we’ve been dreaming about.”
The following day the older couple was stunned to discover they really were cash rich after the bank verified the contents of their account.
“We can’t keep all that,” Heather stated.
“Agreed. It makes me uncomfortable too. Let’s do something really good with it,” said Michael.
They spent the next four days with a tax accountant and managed to donate everything to a raft of domestic and international charities.
“When it was all over, Heather hugged Michael and said, “I like things the way they are and I’m glad we were able to do what we did. It makes me feel so good.”
“Me too,” Michael said before kissing his wife on the forehead.
The following week, Heather greeted Michael at the door when he arrived home from work and handed him a letter from the mortgage company. It said, “Dear Stone family, it was a pleasure for us to be your choice as a mortgage broker. Congratulations on paying off your mortgage in full….“