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Bookshop manager fined $3k for taking cash left in ATM

13 January 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Another customer gave the $2k from the ATM dispenser to Bermillo, thinking it was hers

A Filipina bookshop manager was fined $3,000 in Eastern Court today, Jan 13, for taking $2,000 in banknotes its owner forgot at an automated teller machine booth (ATM) in Central two years ago.

R. Bermillo pleaded guilty to one count of theft by finding when she appeared before Magistrate Bina Chainrai before noon.

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The prosecution said that at 1:55 pm on Dec 11, 2018, Lau Sum-yi withdrew $2,000 from a Bank of China ATM in IFC Mall in Central. As she was in a hurry, she forgot to take the cash. When she returned a few minutes later, the money was gone.

She reported to the bank and a review of withdrawal records showed Lau withdrew $2,000 at the specified time but the ATM did not retain the money, the prosecution said.

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A review of the machine’s CCTV showed Bermillo first withdrew money at the ATM between 1:53pm and 1:54pm on Dec 11, 2018. Lau followed at 1:55pm. 

A man approached the ATM at 1:56pm and, seeing the money in the dispenser, turned around and called the attention of Bermillo. The defendant took the cash then withdrew money again between 1:57pm and 1:58pm on the same day.


The case was reported and, after further investigation, police raided Bermillo’s flat in Ap Lei Chau on June 8, 2020 and found the ATM card she used at the time. She was arrested but kept silent. She was charged on Nov 24 and first appeared in court on Dec 17.

Bermillo pleaded guilty but said the version of events read out to her were not accurate.

Chainrai ignored her claim, after ascertaining from the defense lawyer that Bermillo had admitted the facts.

But in mitigation, the defense lawyer reiterated Bermillo’s claim that she had seen the cash left behind in the ATM and put it aside, while she spoke to someone on the phone. When her attention was called to the money by the man who was about to use the machine, she took it and continued her phone conversation until she forgot all about it.

The lawyer said the defendant, 50, managed a branch of a popular bookstore chain. She had lived in Hong Kong for 26 years and has three grown-up daughters. He presented a letter to the court vouching for the defendant’s character.

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He asked for a fine, citing his client’s good character and this being her first offense.

Chainrai imposed the fine but warned the woman she could go to jail next time.


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