A South African student, Sibongile Mani, accidentally received a deposit of $1 million in her financial aid account and spent more than $60k before authorities realized the mistake. Walter Sisulu University in Eastern Cape province accidentally loaded the massive funds onto the student’s financial aid debit card.
The financial assistance was only supposed to be a $100 stipend for food and books and was available to the student immediately. However, four extra zeroes were accidentally added to the deposit, quickly turning the student’s $100 stipend into a $1 million shopping spree. University officials didn’t realize the mistake until another student discovered the young woman’s newly found extravagant spending habits and alerted authorities.
While several media outlets identified the student on social media, university officials have refused to release the student’s identity in compliance with South African law. In just a few weeks, WSU claims that the student spent tens of thousands of dollars on miscellaneous items and WSU officials have started examining her transaction records to determine the extent of her shopping spree. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
According to CNN, the student’s financial aid account has been blocked and the remaining balance has been retracted.
“The student will be liable for the money she’s already spent,” a WSU spokesperson stated. Intellimali, the financial aid company responsible for issuing the cards, has taken full responsibility for the oversight and have put new policies in place to ensure this incident never happens again.
Intellimali has also appointed an auditor to investigate the incident further and claimed legal action will be taken against the student for the misuse of funds. The South African Parliament also weighed in on the oversight stating, “this is unacceptable that such a grave mistake as this one could occur undetected on money appropriated by Parliament.”