Panicking Bank Clients Withdrew $9 Million

December 24, 2004

RUMORS that the government would close BAC San José, a private bank with 32 branches in Costa Rica, prompted thousands of bank clients to withdraw savings totaling $9 million in August. BAC officials, as well as the country s top economic officials, said the rumors were baseless and managed to restore calm after a few days of chaos that included, ironically, the mugging of a man leaving a BAC branch with $10,000 in cash he had withdrawn in an attempt to save it from the nonexistent government intervention. Officials chided the public for taking action without checking the facts. BAC San José s executive vice-president Gerardo Corrales told The Tico Times in December that although initial probes showed the rumors began with text messages sent to cell phones from call centers and an Internet café, the perpetrators remain unknown. It was very well done, very well planned, he said of the spread of false information.

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