Illinois man takes own life after seeing $730K negative balance on investment app

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WGN) — When a 20-year-old Illinois man opened his trading app on his phone, it showed him close to $1 million in the red. Soon after, he took his own life, but his family says he actually didn’t lose the money at all.

Alexander Kearns was home from college at the University of Nebraska when he became interested in investing. His family said he downloaded the Robinhood app and began making trades.

On Thursday, the 20-year-old looked at his account on the app and saw a negative $730,000 balance.

“It’s actually a user interface issue and when Alex opened his app, he saw his cash balance was $730,000 and when you look at the screenshot, he had $16,000 in his account which was his true saving,” said William Brewster, Kearns’ relative.

His family said he took a screenshot and wrote a suicide note. His body was found the next day. He had thrown himself in front of a train.

Brewster said the issue on the app needs to be fixed and said the company needs to address the potential harm that the glitch can create.

 Robinhood issued the following statement:

“All of us at Robinhood are deeply saddened to hear this terrible news and we reached out to share our condolences with the family. We will not share any details regarding the account to respect privacy and confidentiality.”

Brewster called Robinhood’s response “canned” and said he is still seeking to find out why the account would show a negative balance.

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