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Your Take: Would You Turn In $140,000?

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Money Always KnowsEarly April, a man turned in a bag of loot that had fallen off a Brink’s truck (yeah, that really does happen!) worth $140,000 to the police station… and he got $2,000 for his trouble. Now, chances are that Eli Estrada would never have been able to keep the money had he actually kept it. Banks have that stuff on lockdown and they know the bill numbers and all that jazz. However, it’s still tempting to keep $140,000 in unmarked bills sitting in $20k stacks conveniently placed on the side of a road (I wonder if it had big dollar signs on it like in the cartoons).

My question for you, and you can answer anonymously if you prefer, is… what would you have done? Would you have kept it? What if you could totally get away with it?

My first reaction would be to take the cash. $140,000 is a pretty large sum of money and I think you’d be hard pressed not to at least imagine what you could do with it. In fact, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here when I say that most people’s first reaction would be to keep it. However, I think that after a few moments of imagining what I could do with it, I’d come to my senses and get it back to the rightful owner. That money belongs to someone else, so by keeping it, even if you can get away with it, you’re still stealing and there’s no justification for that. (sorry if that biases your answer, but you can still remain anonymous!)

Plus, karma’s a bitch and she’ll always finds you. :)

(Cool photo by TW Collins)

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24 Responses to “Your Take: Would You Turn In $140,000?”

  1. Lynnae says:

    I’d turn it in. I’d certainly imagine what I could do with that kind of money, but there’s no way my conscience would let me keep it.

  2. Frugal Dad says:

    My first thought would be to turn it in. I’d walk right into the police station and say, “I found this bag with $40,000 in it.” No, seriously, I would turn in ALL the money because I wouldn’t want Karma hunting me down.

  3. Will says:

    I would take the money and run

  4. Curtis says:

    Knowing I would not get away with it (that’s just my luck) I would have found a place to turn it in.

    In a similar line, a friend of mine recently found and turned in a duffel bag from her dumpster that contained $24,000 of marijuana! She said that’s about how much she had left to pay on her house!

  5. Ben says:

    Anytime I’ve found money I’ve always sought out the rightful owner (and have never accepted a reward).

    But I’d like to believe that I’d keep something like that. If I knew I’d never get caught I’d try my best to launder it.

  6. Ben says:

    @Curtis: The consequences for trying to “convert” the marijuana into cash is not worth the effort I would certainly have turned that in.

  7. Llama Money says:

    I’m with you – I’d imagine all the cool investments I could make, and a few frivolous purchases as well. And then of course reality would set in, and I’d remember that I don’t steal. Even if it’s found on the side of the road, it does belong to another person / company.

    My religion says Thou shalt not steal. So, I’d turn it in. If I get rewarded for my efforts, then fantastic. If not, at least I’ll sleep well at night. Not on a $140k pile of money, but still. Not worth the anxiety / going to hell over a pile of cash.

  8. Four Pillars says:

    I would turn it in. I would hate it, but I would do the right thing. :)

  9. Amms says:

    I’d have to play with it for a while before I turned it in. You know, touch it, fan it out, dream and just play! Then I’d have to turn it in or I’d spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder for the KARMA to come and get me.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’d keep the money, launder it and pay off day to day expenses with it… in cash of course.

  11. Lord says:

    It would be tempting, but you have to realize how inconvenient cash is, even if it is anonymous. I doubt it could be traced as it was not new issue but repackaged currency, but you couldn’t just deposit it without creating a record. Large purchases in cash would be suspicious. Spending it out of pocket would take years.

  12. Polly says:

    Karma is our friend, but it will bite you if you get off track. I’d turn it in, too. And it isn’t about a reward, it’s about doing what’s right.

    What would you do if it was a lesser amount? $1,000? $500: $100? $50? $10? $5? $1? Do you have a cut-off point???

    Our local rag offers free classified ads for found items. At what point would you pocket the cash rather than place a free ad saying you found some cash, at what location, and ask that the owner identify the amount?

    Food for thought.

  13. Al says:

    Take the bag o’ money to Las Vegas, Reno, et. al. Feed the loot into the slot machines one bill at a time (slots don’t take coins anymore). Pull the handle once, cash out the rest (or winnings) and launder the money. Slot machines won’t know if the serial numbers are traced or not. Do a few bills at many casinos over a period of time and distance. Don’t forget to wear a disguise so the eyes in the sky don’t ID you!

  14. Cap says:

    I dunno about you, but where I live… cold hard cash in a bag can be from legit or illegitimate people. I’d rather turn it in, rather than having the wrong type of people hunting me down and “rewarding” me.

    Alright that’s just paranoia. But yeah, turning it in is just the right thing to do.

  15. Fun question. I used to drive limo in Vegas; starting my shift I found what I thought was a personal bag from the previous shift’s driver. I opened it to find an ID and instead discovered $5,400. I gotta say, it was quite tempting. Would have been pretty easy to pocket this. I remember ‘thinking forward’ as to what I could accomplish with the money (not a LOT of cash, but a lot when you didn’t have much). In my ‘BEST’ case scenario, I saw this small capital investment growing into a bit of a small biz, that biz growing into something great. Looking back from the future, I knew the whole thing was built on a false foundation. I called over another driver and counted it with him, then notified more than one office (just in case one office didn’t want to be as honest).

    The owner of the cash was pretty cool. First thing he said to me was: So, you found my bag of $10,000, huh?

    –Dave Charboneau, C.E.R.

  16. Jared says:

    Anyone can say they would do the right thing, but if most people find that kind of cash, especially if they have financial problems of their own, theres no way they would give it up. Me? I’d shove that bag down my pants and run like hell. Marked bills or not, I’d find a way to launder it and invest it to make more money. In a few years, i’ll keep what I make and turn in the “Principle” to clear my consious :)

  17. I would take the money, and learn as much as I can about money laundering. The article on money laundering at HowStuffWorks dot com is great. There’s more stuff out there. I would also learn from the mistakes of famous money laundering operations.

  18. Justin says:

    I’d fill up my gas tank!!! :)

  19. Lord says:

    As far as karma goes, what makes you think karma didn’t deliver it into your lap in the first place? Seems realistic to see if anyone is looking for it, but not necessarily seek out who lost it. Given the size though, it would be a weight on your conscience and your rationalizing capability.

  20. fred@opc says:

    I’d give it back.

  21. Jackie says:

    Karma is a bitch. But maybe that bag of money was meant for you to find. A miracle from God. If it was me, the money was meant for me to find. College tuition,bills, ect. A heavy load would have been lifted

  22. Hmmm…. How Stuff Works, eh? I’ll have to look that one up. Larcenously speaking, it’s hard for me to imagine what you would do with that much money. The bank will report it. I suppose you could use it to buy all your groceries and other necessities in cash and then invest the equivalent from your paycheck…but that sounds an awful lot like work.

    About Dave the former limo driver’s tale: It is so wonderful when a cabby or other person who has to deal with the public all the time is kind enough to return something you’ve lost! A friend left something of value in a rental car and was told that after the car has been returned, the company’s policy is that the workers who clean it out get to keep anything they find. And that’s exactly what they did.

    People who are honest bring joy into our lives.

  23. Glenn Lasher says:

    I would most certainly turn it in. While I have no doubt in my mind that the Brinks truck and the banks involved have this stuff insured, keeping the money would ultimately cost everyone else. It would be bad karma.

  24. Shanti says:

    This is really thought-provoking. My first reaction is KEEP IT! But… I am REALLY all about karma, and if it’s someone else’s, it’s only fair to give it back. After all, finders-keepers only really works in 3rd grade. ;)

    I think I would give it back. Or maybe if it were in separate bags, keep one small bag (few thousand?) and give the rest back. But considering Karma, I may just give the whole thing back and hope that someday if I loose a diamond ring or a few hundred bucks, someone would be kind enough to return it to me!


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