PayPal Glitch Actually Put Man $92 Quadrillion in the Red

Stephanie Farr
Copyright Stephanie Farr
For one brief, sparkling moment, an eBay (EBAY) user thought he'd been granted the nominal title of Earth's only quadrillionaire by the auction site's online payment service. In fact, his monthly PayPal statement showed a negative balance of more than $92 quadrillion, which would have made him more than 5,500 times more indebted than the United States government.

Chris Reynolds, 56, of Media, Pa., opened an email from PayPal on Friday to see the staggering sum of $92,233,720,368,547,800 -- a figure more than 1.26 million times the fortune of the world's richest person, Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helu (as estimated by Forbes).

This understandably caused Reynolds some confusion. On Monday he told the Philadelphia Daily News that the astronomical amount had been credited to his account -- "I'm just feeling like a million bucks," he said -- though he added, "At first I thought that I owed quadrillions. It was quite a big surprise." In fact, the purported balance really was negative, as a screenshot of Reynolds' statement shows:

Account statement
Courtesy Chris Reynolds

When Reynolds logged on to PayPal's site, however, he saw a less unexpected balance: zero. The error, evidently, had been corrected. Still thinking he'd had a near miss with the goddess Fortuna, and in a generous frame of mind, he donated $30 to the Democratic slate for Delaware County Council.

Reynolds owns a public relations firm with his wife and said he generally spends no more than $100 a month using PayPal, buying and selling vintage car parts on eBay. Back when he thought he had briefly been the recipient of an e-bonanza, Reynolds said he would have used the money to pay down the national debt, then to "buy the Phillies, if I could get a great price," according to the Daily News. No word on what Reynolds would have done had he actually owed more than $92 trillion, as the statement indicated.

PayPal has been close-lipped about how such a gargantuan error occurred, citing its policy of not giving out information on customer accounts. But Reynolds told DailyFinance that PayPal offered to make a donation to a nonprofit of his choice. "They seem to have a sense of humor about this technical glitch," he said.

This post has been updated to reflect that the enormous error was in fact a negative balance, not a credit, as Mr. Reynolds had initially said.

[H/T: Circa]

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Brian Bober

Approximately 2^64 / 2 . Simple integer math error

July 19 2013 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you know what they should do is to have a random user technical glitch planned each month - a quadrillionaire day! one special user member would be singled out at random and their bank account balance spoofed like this.
each person in the example would have their day of fame posted online if they wished.
I like the idea of buying the Phillies!
everyone has a secret major money mojo move don't we?

July 18 2013 at 8:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amy Valencia

I had a bad experience with PayPal myself. A company transfer money to my PayPal but it never showed up. I called so many times, all they could say was "call the company that sent me the money." I told them I received the money every month and I received emails telling me to claim the money or it will be send back. They said the emails are fake and there's no money sent to me. I tried to contact their online customer service but it resulted in more nightmares. Their responds were so irrelevant, thanking me for reporting a scheme. After so much headaches, all of a sudden the money appeared in my account. No apology, no explanation.

July 18 2013 at 4:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wish I owed that kind of dough. When you owe the bank a hundred grand they own you, when you owe them a billion (or multiple quadrillions) - You own them!

July 18 2013 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that all the assets in the world are worth about $1 quadrillion. This guy was in debt for 92 times more wealth than actually exists. :P

July 18 2013 at 12:37 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wraith0713's comment

Bankers math doesn't have to make sense!

July 18 2013 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Paypal and Ebay absolutely suck. Amazon is absolutely destroying Ebay. By the end of the year, Listia will be destroying Ebay too. Meg Whitman & later John Donahoe took the best and most profitable idea ever and flushed it down the toilet with incompetence and greed. After a disastrous attempt to be governor of California, Meg Whitman continues to be one of the worst executives on earth as she runs HP into the ground. Yet another job destroying "job creator" the brainless Baggers worship like a god.

July 17 2013 at 10:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

My credit card once showed I owed $42,363,500,422,535.89
They screwed up.
They put my credit card number in my balance due.

Don't try to use that number, I cancelled that account more then twenty years ago.

July 17 2013 at 9:04 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

electronic errors do occur, but they would have a fat chance collecting.

July 17 2013 at 8:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

That would make him the most interesting man in the world. Love to know what he spent it on.

July 17 2013 at 5:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Isn't that the amount the government said that it would wait to hit before dealing with the deficit?

July 17 2013 at 4:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply