Americana: Take the Money and Dun

Let other banks give toasters and electric blankets to their customers. Carl Cochran got something better. Two months ago, a local branch of the Bank of America credited the San Francisco freelance writer with more than $4,000 in an account that, he jokes, usually has a balance of "about $6.15." Cochran claims he informed a teller of the mistake, but the bank insisted the amount was correct. Exasperated, Cochran withdrew the funds and notified bank officials that he was holding their money hostage.

Then, in a spirit that would be cheered by millions of Americans who have dueled with a bank's...

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