I was driving to Sydney last November when Daniel Saunders called me. He had first contacted me in March 2013 via this website saying that he wanted to talk to me.
“I have a story, I would love to know your opinion and also if you think it would make a good book. I’ve always been a bit of a party guy and that’s the only reason I came across this, I’m not a computer whiz, I’m just an everyday bloke. Until of course, this happened….”
“This” was the story that finally appeared in the Good Weekend Magazine today.
He had taken the National Australia Bank for about $500 000 in four and a half months and now he wanted to come clean, he said.
For a long time I was sceptical, it’s taken 15 months to get this extraordinary tale in print. At first, I told him I wasn’t interested. I didn’t want to be responsible for Dan going to jail. We kept talking over months and I could tell he had been serious in his first message when he said:”I’m not looking for a moral compass here, I know what I did was wrong.”
Still, every instinct told me this was not a story that was in Dan’s best interests. If the bank had decided not to chase him, he should bless his luck and slink off into the night. A lawyer was more blunt after hearing the story: “They aren’t after him, considering it’s been nearly three years. Tell him to shut the f**k up.” I told Dan this many times but he was determined. He didn’t want a black cloud hanging over his life, he could never move on until this thing was resolved one way or another, even if he ended up in a jail cell. I told Dan that jail was not a place he should ever aspire to, even a short sentence could be life-changing and not in a good way.
He understood what the stakes were and was determined to press ahead with the story. Above all he didn’t want to become a crook, even though he had broken the law. It sounds like an artificial distinction when you have stolen half a million dollars but a man who wants to be punished is not a crook in my book. A crook would never ring up a journalist and confess to a crime and virtually demand to be exposed. If this was not resolved, he feared he could disappear into the moral abyss of crime.
“Walking around with the blueprint of a bank’s internal clock in your mind is a dangerous thing, my mind constantly entertains thoughts of other potential bank glitches. I ultimately want this to stop at some point,” he wrote me in an email last night.
“I want people to know how it really happened, I’m not a card skimmer, I overdrew my own accounts. At the end of the day Adam I’m just a worker, who loves a bet and a drink,” he wrote.
So, now the story is out there, who knows what will happen next. Dan feels like a weight has been lifted. It’s hard to believe the bank will do nothing but whatever consequences flow Dan is ready.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the queues at NAB’s ATMs might be a little longer today.