Visa claims teen spent $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 on prepaid credit card


79 Responses to “Visa claims teen spent $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 on prepaid credit card”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This was a major glitch for Visa Buxx. My son’s Visa Buxx card was charged for the exact same amount — $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 — for his dinner at Applebees. When I called to complain, the tired-sounding customer service rep interrupted me: “You calling about the 23 trillion dollar charge?” “Actually,” I said, “it’s 23 quadrillion. I looked it up.”

    I think it’s likely that thousands of unlucky kids got their cards suspended until the folks at Visa Buxx figured this out. Though they still haven’t reversed the $20 overdraft fee.

  2. Anonymous says:

    lolbufferoverflow. It’s nice to see there’s proper validation of input on from CVS to VISA…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good thing it was CVS and not a US telco. Telcos get to keep any money they “accidentally” overdraw from your account, and credit it towards future billings. I know two people who got bankrupted because AT&T cleaned out their entire life’s savings.

    Corpratocracy at work… don’t get any on ya!

  4. Not a Doktor says:

    This is one of those ‘computer has processor fart and converts simple number to hexadecimal machine code’ things isn’t it?

  5. nanner says:

    that’s a lot of shampoo

  6. bardfinn says:

    Get the cash advance, and you wouldn’t need to run from the police; you’d OWN them. And most of the United States, too.

    It’s not in Visa’s favour to decline cards on overages: Then they can’t confiscate the remaining balance and demand processing fees on the transaction.

    They probably ought to be required to decline such overages – by law.

    Call your congresspeople!

  7. Ian70 says:

    Jesus Christ, and I thought condoms were expensive -here-.

  8. Anonymous says:

    @Reginald – BoingBoing is a news site?

  9. mdh says:

    She’s gonna need a slightly higher allowance to pay that off.

  10. Antinous / Moderator says:

    The drugstore is in downtown Harare. Case closed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t know CVS was up for sale?

  12. Anonymous says:

    oh well, its good to know that the credit processing system wont fail in the event of huge inflation where a quadrillion dollars would buy you a tooth paste.

  13. tazzy531 says:

    This is the perfect time to charge $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 at CVS and get away with not paying it!!!

  14. xzzy says:

    The good news is, when CVS pays their taxes this year, the US won’t be in debt anymore.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Wait a minute…Who’s to say she didn’t?

  16. cory says:

    Well, at least she wasn’t texting. Those charges really add up.

  17. reginald says:

    Juveniles should not have techonolgy/products they don’t understand

  18. onthost says:

    I actually wet my pants at work reading the comments!! We should make a weekly magazine with colums from these posters! WE would make BILLIONS!!

  19. Mark Gordon says:

    …and if she has enough Twitter followers, they might fix it.

  20. zuzu says:

    Well, you don’t get 23 quadrillion dollars, but the billing statement says that’s what it’s worth.

    and this is news?

    What about all of the mistakes in book-entry settlement systems that aren’t so obviously discovered?

    What investigations are uncovering precisely how such an error occurred?

    How are you, the end-user, supposed to audit such a system? (What if the item in question wasn’t so obviously incorrect?)

    Yes, this is news.

  21. LennStar says:

    Pharmacy? Ah, one Dollar for every VIAGRA BUY HERE! mail ever send :D

  22. mwschmeer says:

    How much personal lubricant does one need?

  23. Neill S Mitchell Esq. says:


    When was BB ever a news site?

    Stories like this are just some fluff to lighten the day. Gawd bless ‘em.

  24. Tgg161 says:

    Is the number her Visa card number, or does it contain part of it? Maybe the teller entered the numbers twice by mistake. And if my guess is correct… you should see about getting a new card.

  25. pinehead says:

    That’s a lot of rubbers.

  26. Cory Doctorow says:

    Visa cards all begin with 4; Mastercards with 5.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m surprised the field in their DB to store that value was large enough to hold that number. No data integrity constraints for Visa I guess.

  28. gruben says:


  29. reginald says:

    all i meant was that these are headlines in tabloids all the time.
    maybe you have been lucky enough to avoid them?

  30. AlanJCastonguay says:

    There’s a pattern here, looks like corruption in the high bits. If you take the number in cents 2314885530818450000 and convert to hex;


    Or binary:


    A pretty pattern, yes? Chop off the leading pattern and you’re left with binary 1001010000 which is 952 decimal, or $9.52.

    Adjust for taxes, lasyweb: What did she buy?

  31. George Curious says:

    I’ll bet VISA won’t back down on the charges at first.

    Also, they don’t have tellers behind the counter at CVS, they have teenagers.

  32. cookiemonsta17 says:

    @71 Anonymous

    So I read that article, and it turns out it’s a different person than the one in this post. One has the last name Hawkins, one has the last name Muszynski.


    -Oops, never mind. From the Economist
    “The issue was with VISA, not with CVS. Apparently lots of VISA debit card users were affected by it, at several different merchants. Each victim was charged exactly $23,148,855,308,184,500.00.”

    Hahaha…dang. No conspiracy theories this time. =P

  33. dculberson says:

    I’m also confused by the fact that it’s listed under “Posted” transactions. Shouldn’t it have been declined? Wouldn’t it have been declined?

  34. Anonymous says:

    Given that information, it could be a charge of $2.31 with the 16-digit card number punched in after it. Except I’ve never seen a teller at a CVS type in the number. Hell, they wouldn’t even swipe the card for me at the register when the customer keypad was broken, she just sent me to a different register.

  35. Chris S says:

    Ok. WEIRD.

    Don’t look at this as dollars. Look at it as pennies.


    entered as


    convert to hex



    0×20 is the code for SPACE.

    I’m guessing is is really supposed to be



    1250 in hex, 4688 in decimal …

    meaning $46.88.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Hey Obama’s stimulus plan is working !!

  37. Mindpowered says:

    @22 All the tabloids seem to be is hysterics and vulgarities over celebrities and demi celebrities.

    Things like this never make it in, much less get commented on and solved (such as happens here in Boing Boing).

  38. nixiebunny says:

    So it’s been established that the 64 bit integer has ASCII spaces in the leftmost bytes.

    How on earth could this happen ONCE? Data conversions are generally done under computer control, and computers usually work on more than one data item at a time.

    Shouldn’t this produce a lot of news, instead of only one instance?

    Of course, the kid has a Consumerist parent, so this may be the only parent intelligent enough to notice what’s going on with a prepaid card balance.

  39. RolandReave says:

    Okay, I laughed when I read the article…

    But I was rolling on the floor and holding my stomach trying to breathe when I read the comments.

    You guys have made my day.

  40. Zan says:

    @#19 Assuming that the “4″ at the beginning got truncated by the POS software and that 4 0s were appended to the number for some reason, the resulting 16 digit number does pass the Luhn Algorithm Test for valid credit card numbers.

    That said, I like the 0×20 spaces theory better.

  41. Anonymous says:


    Take the number. Convert it to random keys on my keyboard.


    now, take those letters, and replace them with these:


    OMG. She bought a FACE!!! It makes sense, they’re expensive!

  42. GuidoDavid says:

    Was the computer that processed the fee called Mike?

  43. Zan says:

    How is it that buying $200 of stuff from CircuitCity or Dell gets my credit card flagged for fraud, causing my card to be denied until I call the fraud department, but a 23 quadrillion dollar charge at CVS goes through okay? Honestly, with the fees that Visa charges credit card processors, they could afford an algorithm that does something like:


  44. Anonymous says:

    I bet the card number is probably the trailing 16 digits:


    And the charge amount was the leading three digits


    Probably a GREAT idea to get a new card.

    Fuzzy Bones

  45. Zan says:

    Sorry for the triple post, but here’s someone else reporting a VERY similar problem (same number, only their total ended in 600.00 instead of 500.00): (site contains NSFW language).

  46. Brainspore says:

    Granting a $23 Quadrillion credit limit to a teenager? No wonder the lenders are in so much financial trouble these days.

  47. reginald says:

    when you’re deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the emancipation proclamation, does it make sense?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the cashier was just pissed off that he was getting fired.

  49. rhys says:

    oh eris yo so funneh

  50. TheMoneyGeek says:

    What I want to know is when did CVS start accepting cell phone bill payments?

  51. Phikus says:

    Shouldn’t it have been declined? Wouldn’t it have been declined?

    The amount was too big to fail.

  52. AlmostReadytoFly says:

    With pharmacy costs like these, Americans are still scared of single payer healthcare?? :-P

  53. Michael Smith says:


    Definitely qualifies as funny-once.

  54. jackwilliambell says:

    Personally I am proud of the programmers at Visa. Anyone else would have cut corners and used a data-type limited to a four hundred billion dollars because ‘no one would ever spend more than ten billion’.

    Famous last words, as always…

  55. TroofSeeker says:

    He was just picking up a month’s supply of relief for Michael Jackson.

  56. vamidus says:

    The numbers are negative


    CVS data feed to Visa corrupt? I bet this isn’t the only crazy CVS purchase on a Visa committed on that day…

    Card suspensions pending investigation by Visa drones ensue. It will be all sorted out in one business day. Move along…

  57. Anonymous says:

    what did she buy the ENTIRE store?????

  58. Anonymous says:

    you might have caused the recession spending more than a third more than the planet’s economy on drugs

  59. Hans says:

    I see a political future for this kid. Clearly he understands the new economy.

  60. DarthVain says:

    A) I don’t think I would be inclined to pay the 20$ fee.


    B) How else are kids going to learn about bankruptcy?

  61. tp1024 says:

    Hey guys, this is was not a mistake. Just a bit premature. But at least they are prepared.

  62. dculberson says:

    Hopefully he gets CVS to refund the charge in cash since the card is suspended.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the cashier typed the card number into the machine manually, in the section where the charge was supposed to be?

    2314 8855 3081 8450 with a couple extra 0′s on the end? Maybe someone just posted this kid’s card number on the internet?

  64. Anonymous says:

    makes my thousand a day smack habit seem petty in comparison.

  65. jjasper says:

    I just called my broker and told him to by shares in CVS Caremark. After the market digests the news about this, I’m thinking about buying the nation of Iceland. I hear they have a good infrastructure, and some debt problems.

  66. reginald says:

    and this is news?

  67. Avram / Moderator says:

    Wow. That’s almost 400 times the entire world’s GDP for 2008 ($60,115,459,000,000).

  68. Anonymous says:

    Whatever she bought should be immediately returned to CVS for a full refund! If CVS can charge the card for that amount they should honor the refund to the extent the corporation has available cash, stock, or other assets.

  69. Chris S says:



    is indeed a pretty pattern, but first, it should be a multiple of eight, and then split up. We need to add two zeros at the front…


    Looked at this way, it’s hard to justify anything other than dropping the leading “00100000″s.

    So, we are left with 0001001001010000 == 4688.

    Incidentally, prefilling a “zeroed” field with blanks instead of nulls is possible if you screw up COBOL datatypes in certain ways.

  70. The Unusual Suspect says:

    If it were an Amex card, she’d have to pay it anyway.

  71. Anonymous says:

    WOW – that’s over $200 (US) worth of Zimbabwe money!! Pay the bill with Zimbabwe 100 Trillion dollar bills, OR just wait a bit, until the US dollar declines to the same level.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Happened to my son in NM as well… I think it is the card company. The same $ amount.

  73. cmulin says:

    Amazing article, funny as well. The kid should go get a job so that she can get a payday loan to start paying off the debt!!

  74. Anonymous says:

    Wells Fargo programmers messing with Wachovia code in an effort to integrate systems???

  75. highlyverbal says:

    Based on the actual outcome, #39 wins the thread.

    Honorable mentions: #66, #68

  76. Brett Burton says:

    That’ll teach her to laugh at that computer geek from school when he asked her to the dance.

  77. Anonymous says:

    She could declare herself a bank and get a bail out.

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