B-238487, May 25, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen.

B-238487: May 25, 1990

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When there is an irreconcilable dispute of fact between a government agency and a claimant. The burden is on the claimant to prove his claim. Therefore a service member's claim for a $150 withdrawal from an automatic teller machine which he says he never received must be denied when the Air Force record shows that the $150 was paid to him. USAF: We have been asked to settle the claim of Airman First Class Nathaniel C. Although the only available records show the money was withdrawn. His claim is denied. Airman Carter and the other members of his unit were given ATM cards in order to receive payments of $150 for each airman. Airman Carter stated that when he inserted his ATM card in the machine the card was returned along with a message that his account was not on file.

B-238487, May 25, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen.

When there is an irreconcilable dispute of fact between a government agency and a claimant, the burden is on the claimant to prove his claim. See 4 C.F.R. Sec. 31.7. Therefore a service member's claim for a $150 withdrawal from an automatic teller machine which he says he never received must be denied when the Air Force record shows that the $150 was paid to him.

Airman Nathaniel C. Carter, USAF:

We have been asked to settle the claim of Airman First Class Nathaniel C. Carter, USAF, for $150. The claim arose in connection with an attempted withdrawal from an Air Force automatic teller machine (ATM) which he states he never received, although the only available records show the money was withdrawn. For the reasons presented below, his claim is denied.

On May 17, 1989, Airman Carter and the other members of his unit were given ATM cards in order to receive payments of $150 for each airman. The Air Force had established a pay account for each airman, identified by his social security number. Airman Carter stated that when he inserted his ATM card in the machine the card was returned along with a message that his account was not on file. He immediately notified his Military Training Instructor, Sergeant Barry, who reinserted the card and received the same message.

When the machine was checked, the journal tape indicated that $150 had been withdrawn from Airman Carter's account via transaction 0255. The next transaction, which occurred immediately, was apparently the one Airman Carter referred to above. No money was paid out, and there was a notation of "account on hold" on the tape. After two normal withdrawal transactions, there was another entry under Airman Carter's social security number, which apparently occurred when Sergeant Barry reinserted Airman Carter's card. Again, no money was paid out, and the tape read "account on hold." When the cash was counted at the end of the day, the ATM was in balance, indicating that the ATM paid out the $150 in question. There were two surveillance cameras near the ATM. However, one was covered due to remodeling, and the other did not show the transactions in question clearly enough to be of use. Airman Carter states that he did not receive the money and claims that amount.

This Office must settle claims on the basis of the record before us. Where the record presents an irreconcilable dispute of fact, the burden of proof is on the claimant to establish the liability of the United States. 4 C.F.R. Sec. 31.7 (1989); see Jones and Short, B-205282, June 15, 1982.

The situation before us presents such an irreconcilable dispute. While Airman Carter maintains that he did not receive his pay, the journal tape in the ATM shows that payment of $150 was made from Carter's account, and the cash in the machine was in balance at the end of the day. That tape is the only documentary evidence available. Therefore, on the basis of this evidence we must conclude that the payment was made.

Accordingly, we have no alternative but to deny Airman Carter's