Man Uses Toy Gun to Get Back $19,200 From His Frozen Bank Account

It wasn't a hoax.

A Beirut man used a toy gun to "rob" a local bank of more than $19,000 of his own money, news outlets reported this week. It wasn't a hoax or stunt aimed at viral video, but a response to Lebanon's financial crisis. Read on to find out what happened to the man, why a number of people in the country are taking similar desperate measures, and what the government could do to alleviate the crisis. 

1
Man Brandishes Toy Gun to Access His Account

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Lebanon is in the midst of an economic crisis, and bank accounts have been frozen, leaving many citizens unable to pay for basic necessities. That has caused some to take dramatic action. On Friday, Mohammad Korkmaz flashed a toy gun inside Byblos Bank in Ghazieh, Lebanon, to withdraw $19,200 from his own account, Beirut.com reported. After obtaining the money, the man handed it to a companion who had been waiting outside the bank, then turned himself in to the authorities.

2
He's Not the Only One

Bandit carrying a gun, wearing a black mask.
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It's an increasingly common tactic. On Wednesday, a woman used a toy pistol to recover $13,200 from her frozen account at a Beirut bank. "Lebanese people have grown desperate to get their hands on their own money, which has been frozen in banks since the beginning of the crisis," Beirut.com reported. "It is likely that these happenings will become a frequent sight considering the grueling conditions that people have been enduring, as they are now forced to take matters into their own hands." 

3
Friday Was a Day of Heists

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Five banks in Lebanon were "held up" on Friday alone, Reuters reported. On Friday morning, an armed man identified as Abed Soubra entered a bank in the Tariq Jdideh neighborhood demanding his deposit. He was locked in the bank well after sundown, negotiating with bank officials to withdraw his $300,000 savings. The man eventually left the bank with no money, local media said.

4
"They Don't Have Another Solution"

Man carrying a gun to rob the bank
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Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein carried out a similar hold-up in August to get his own money. "We're going to keep seeing this happen as long as people have money inside. What do you want them to do? They don't have another solution," Hussein told Reuters.

5
"The Depositors' Uprising" Continues

People line up outside a bank branch to use ATM machine
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The Depositors' Union, an advocacy group established to help Lebanese citizens access their funds, described Friday's heists as "the depositors' uprising" and a "natural and justified reaction" to the banking crisis.

The Lebanese lira has lost more than 95% of its value since 2019. The government has yet to address the crisis: It has yet to pass a 2022 budget or enact reforms that would give the country access to $3 billion from the International Monetary Fund. That has left banks to arbitrarily set limits on how much money customers can withdraw from their accounts.

"This banking system is tricking us and it's worth my shoe," one man told Reuters after using a fake gun to get $20,000 from his account at the Banque Libano-Francaise. 

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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