The Ethics of Found Money: Where Do You Draw the Line?

money gutterLast week, while walking in a parking lot, I found a ten-dollar bill on the ground.

The feeling that came over me was similar to when I get a really thoughtful birthday present — or when I find a crumpled sawbuck in the pocket of a winter coat I haven’t worn for many months.

I know what you’re thinking: So, Len, did you consider trying to find the rightful owner?

You bet! I thoroughly scanned the parking lot, looking for people who may have dropped it. And while I did see two folks walking to their cars, they didn’t look like people irresponsible enough to have carelessly dropped five-bucks.

So I kept the cash.

Besides, I believe Federal and State law says — and I’m paraphrasing here — finders keepers losers weepers.

Finding loose money on the ground is kind of like winning the lottery, although the payoff is a lot smaller. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it’s like winning a lottery scratcher — not that I do that sort of thing.

Anyway, that was only the second time in my life that I ever found something other than a loose coin on the ground.

The other time I was back when I was in third grade; I found a ten-dollar bill while walking to school. Yep. I could barely contain myself when I found it too! After all, that was a lot of cash back then — equivalent to more than $50 today.

Hey, give a kid fifty bucks today and he’ll think he won the lottery too.

Needless to say, by lunch time, every kid on campus knew about my good fortune.

The Ethics of Found Money

Of course, there’s found money — and then there’s found money. Obviously, there is a point where the amount of found cash becomes large enough that not turning it in to the authorities becomes an ethical issue. The question is where do we draw the line?

To me the answer is totally dependent on the circumstances.

I’m sure a lot of you will disagree with my assertion that a single loose bill as large as $100 aimlessly blowing in the street should be considered a personal windfall, no pun intended.

However, I also believe that a wad of cash, or multiple bills tied up with, say, a rubber band or a money clip is absolutely not a windfall. In those cases, I would certainly turn the currency in.

I would also turn in a single $100 bill laying on the floor of any business establishment or, for example, the backseat of a taxi. In both cases, I could easily see the owner, after recognizing he recently lost his money, quickly determining exactly where he lost it.

If the money is in a wallet, purse or any other container with identification, then I think that money should also be turned in regardless of whether it held $10 or $10,000.

What Do You Say, Readers?

I’m curious to know what is the most amount of money you have ever found?

Do you think it’s unethical to keep a loose hundred-dollar bill if you found it at the corner of Main and Elm street and decide not to turn it in to the authorities? If so, would you also turn in a loose one-dollar bill to the authorities as well?

When it comes to the ethics of found money, where do you draw the line?

Photo Credit: Metro Centric

(This is an updated version of an article originally posted on May 6, 2010.)


  1. 1

    T-bone says

    I once found $20 laying on the ground when I was walking into a football stadium. Bought me two beers with it and had a couple bucks left over for a pretzel.

  2. 2


    I would also look around to see if anyone appeared to be searching for the missing money. If so, I would give it back to them. Most times, the person has no idea they have lost it and there is no possible way to give it back to them. So, then it becomes a gift.

    We recently lost an Angel’s ticket on the way into the stadium and it was quickly gone. I’m certain someone watched us drop it and neglected to tell us. That seems more like stealing and I wouldn’t do that. I’d much rather buy something innexpensive than to obscond with it. I value my integrity at much higher than $20.

  3. 3

    Sam says

    The most money I ever found was $10. I was at an indoor mall. The place was full of people but I didn’t bother asking if somebody lost it. I figured half the people there would have said something like “sure I lost it”. Then what? Do I make everybody draw straws? This is ten bucks, not somebodys life savings. Sometimes you should thank your lucky stars and accept what is given to you because sometimes it isn’t practical to hunt down the owner.

  4. 4


    I do the same thing you do. I look for a possible owner. But if I don’t find him I would keep the money. I have found a little bit of money here and there, but nothing over $20.

    However, I have left $140 at the cash machine a while ago, when I took money out of the ATM and I was unusually absent-minded. When I went back after a few minutes, the money was gone. Too many people must have used the ATM already. I hope that the person who found it really needed it and had good use for it.

    As for me, I was a little annoyed with myself but I also realized that not even that much money made a difference in the bigger scheme of things. I have gotten by very well without those $140.

  5. 5


    I stopped carrying cash for this very reason. I got tired of worrying that I would leave it someplace or drop it. I know you can lose a card, but it is only one object to keep track of, as opposed to a number of bills and coins.

  6. 6


    Actually, about a month ago, I found a $100 bill on the ground at a grocery store. At first, I thought it was fake. Then I figured it was some evil hidden camera show. But no one popped out.

    I hovered in the area for three or four minutes, doing visual sweeps of the surrounding area. I figured if I saw someone looking around on the ground in a panicked way, I’d do the honorable thing.

    But they didn’t. And I knew I should probably turn it in to the customer service people.

    But I didn’t. I felt a little guilty but no one seemed to notice it was missing while I was there — as you said a single bill may not be noticed for awhile.

    Also, I once managed to lose over $300 — back when that’s what I got from the state for the month while I waited to get on disability. I retraced my steps, called the stores. Nada. So I figure now karma only owes me $200.
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..How much do you spend on groceries? =-.

  7. 7

    Sandy L says

    My mom found $100 in a wallet when we were in walmart recently. The woman was elated to get it back.

    I have to admit, there was a time in our lives when we would have taken the money and found a way to justify doing it. When $100 is 1/2 your weekly pay…it’s really easy to convince yourself it was a gift from god or something.

    Luckily, these days, not only can I live without the $100, but give alot to others as well. I also remember what it felt like when my cell phone was returned instead of sold on ebay. Priceless.

    Len, do you think it’s easier to be ethical when you have your basic needs met? I sure do. So, as I tangenate totally off topic, I truly believe the best way to reduce crime by working to reduce poverty. These gray areas soon turn into stealing and then to fraud, and who knows what else.

  8. 9

    Jacquelyne says

    I found $20 on the floor by the printer at my job. I sent an email out that I had found some money. No one claimed it for two days. I guess $20 falling out of their pocket was chump change.

    • 10

      Erik says

      I just found $20 in our boardroom and sent the very same email. I went to this site to decide whether or not it was right to send the email out. I could really use the cash but doing the right thing trumps all.

  9. 12

    d says

    Timely post!
    An employer that I haven’t worked for in a year accidently posted an $800 payment into my bank account just yesturday. Yes, I contacted them and it is indeed an error and I will be sending the $ back shortly.

    Now, this is a State University which is already hurting for $ and they were great to work for. I was a contract employee and left on my own accord in good standing. Had I been fired, laid-off, etc I don’t think I would have been so honest!

    • 13


      D you bring up a good point. I find it hard to cheat an employer although many people think they are fair game. One of my former employers bring that type of behavior on themselves. I was ordered to take a class which cost me 650 bucks. I was supposed to be reimbursed for the course and books. My boss lost the paper work and I missed the deadline for reimbursement. It is hard to be honest with a company that acts in that manner.

  10. 14

    sewingirl says

    Years ago I found a bank envelope with someones shopping list in the grocery store parking lot. I don’t know how much money was in it, I didn’t look. I did take it inside, and gave it to the cashier (this is a very small town) who later gave me a cute crocheted bookmark from the happy to be reunited with her cash retiree. It still makes me smile when I use it.

  11. 15

    Financial Bondage says

    I found $17 bucks in a parking lot once. It was blowing across the lot. There was a woman nearby getting out of her car, I thought she dropped it. I asked and she said nope, it’s not hers.

    No one else near by, I figured. Well, It’s mine.

    My rule is this: if the money is lost with ID (like someone lost their wallet), then I will return it. Otherwise, maybe not.

    have to admit though this post has me thinking….

  12. 16


    I’m a US citizen living in a third world country, and I can’t bring myself to pick up even 20 toea (equal to about 8 US cents). I always think that someone else could probably use it more than me.

  13. 17


    My conscience has been stirred.
    In 2002 I was in the Bahamas swimming in the ocean. I looked and saw a $1 bill buried under a little sand. I swam down to get it and then it looked like it has an extra zero. By the time I grabbed the bill it had two zeros. Yep a $100 bill.
    I kept it. I didn’t even ask anyone about it. Like I fool I spent the money. Actually, I wanted to frame it and my wife called me a fool for trying to save it instead of spend it.
    Do I have an ethical responsibility to fly back to Paradise Island to try to make right the injustices of my youth? Please say yes.

  14. 18


    If you are walking in the middle of the road and you pick a penny, then perhaps, you can say it’s your “lucky penny”..

    but there definitely is an element of ethics here. For example, should be take a tennis ball outside a public tennis court when there is no one around? My son used to do that?

    If you work in the lost and found area, do you give away stuff after nobody claims it for a long long time?

    My son once took a ski pole in the mountains when it was there for ages! We returned it but nobody claimed it!

    Perhaps we have to also “distinguish” things which people do not expect to get back if they are careless.


    1. you drop a coin
    2. you lose $5
    3. a plain old black umbrella
    4. tennis balls with no name written on it..

    But I think folks expect people to be more honest if

    1. you lose your wallet – or at least expect them to return it even if they take the cash (that is why I use credit cards!)

    2. you left your bag of shopping stuff in the bathroom!

  15. 19


    I have only been finding pennies where I live so maybe I need to move where some of you live…ha ha.

    I would look around to see if someone was looking for something and ask that person if it was more than $5 (unless it was a kid!!!). If I find one dollar HONESTLY I am not going to ask around..especially in a big store.

    Now if it happened at work..there are only 10 on staff and our students are not allowed to have money so I would ask then…even if it was $1 because my coworkers are constantly at the vending machine.

  16. 20


    I keep the money too after looking around… The most I have found about $40 at the time (20 english pounds). I used it to buy a second hand tv tuner for my Sega Game Gear and it made my day :).

    As for larger money, yes it should be turned in, and I would never fleece a wallet and then hand it in, the whole contents gets back. I would either contact the person through any way I could in their wallet or go to the police.

    I don’t know if it’s the same in USA but in England if you find something, hand it into the police and then check back in a few months…. if un-claimed you get to keep it, this is kind of fair.

  17. 21


    Simple to me if I cannot find the owner the money is mine. If I find the owner than it is my moral duty to return it to the owner ASAP. I personally would never contact the police unless I had reason to suspect the money was stolen.

  18. 22


    We found $60 (3 – $20′s) lying on the beach in Belize. No one was looking for it or ever came by asking if we found anything. So, we kept it.

    There were two cruise ships at the port and I think probably somebody from the first ship lost it and didn’t realize it at the time.

  19. 23


    I think it makes ethical sense to make a reasonable attempt at locating the owner. If you see the bill out of someone’s pocket, I would think there’s an ethical obligation to tap them on the shoulder. If there’s no one around, well… dinner’s on you.

  20. 24


    I deal with this a lot, as I deal with Japanese tourists who don’t understand tipping where I work. It’s fairly common for them to leave an extra 100 and then you have to go back and correct the error even though they wouldn’t have a clue that they made a mistake…

    If it’s in a parking lot thought with nobody around, I’m taking it!

  21. 25

    Matthew says

    My wife once found several hundred dollar bills scattered on the floor of a comic book shop. She talked to the store’s owner and he’d had a customer in earlier that day who drove over an hour to get there and would normally buy over a thousand dollars worth of comics once a month (that’s what we were told anyway.) Well when he opened his wallet bills flew everywhere, and obviously he didn’t find them all. The comic book guy called his customer up and returned it. The owner of the money gave my wife a free comic, so that’s cool. I think your responsibility to find the owner is proportional to the value of what is found. The bigger the find the more you should do to find the owner.

  22. 26

    Katie B says

    I work at one of the retailers inside of a Walmart. One of the customers of the bank in Walmart had withdrawn $200 in cash and left the money (inside of a cash envelope) near the shoe department. Somebody located the cash envelope, but there was no identification with the money. This person promptly returned the envelope to the bank, and eventually, the customer did call to inquire whether or not someone had returned the money.

    I personally think there is a big difference between finding a $5 note and finding a wad of cash. Consider those moments little tests from Karma herself. If you do justice onto others, you will be justified for your actions. Even if the person doesn’t thank you personally, you will see the natural benefits of being an honest and caring individual. It is easy to see forgotten money as “god’s little gift” to you when you think of it in that light; but, regardless of whether or not somebody appears to be searching for that money does not matter. You did nothing to earn or deserve that money other than be in the right place at the right time. If it were me, and I found $200 outside in the woods, with no place to “turn the money in” so to speak, I will give it to someone who truly DID need the money.

  23. 28


    1) Less grumbling, more thanksgiving.
    2) Less spending, more saving.
    3) Less dreaming, more working.
    4) Less depending on self, more trusting in God.
    ”What should you do less and what should you do more?”

  24. 29

    Arby says

    I was at a bar with a friend once and we decided to shoot a game of pool. I looked into one of the corner pockets and there was a wad of cash. I turned to my friend and said, “You paid the tab right? Walk to the front door and when you get outside start jogging until I yell run”

    It ended up being $360 and I gave my buddy $100 to keep quiet.

    Mind you, I’ve had 2 mopeds stolen from me on prior occasions, both locked up but apparently not well enough. The $260 I ended up with doesn’t scratch what was unlawfully taken from me. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  25. 30

    Keith says

    One time I found a $10 bill on the toilet paper dispenser. Spent it on a DVD. Another time this ATM machine literally ate my $20 dollar. Right before I could take it.

  26. 31

    Daisy says

    I once found $50 on the floor when I was working as a waitress. I bragged to my co-worker that I found a 50, and she automatically told me she lost 50. I gave it to her but don’t think I beleived her.

  27. 32

    Milka says

    I work for foodstore. A few days ago I found a $100 bill on the floor, at the store I work for. I picked it up & put it in my pocket. I just got susspended today, pending termination. The store security services got it on the camera & considerred it stealling. I’ve worked for that store for the past 13 years…

    • 33

      Len Penzo says

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation, Milka.

      Like I mentioned in the article, I would have turned the bill in too in that exact situation — but that’s me.

      That being said, I don’t see how they can say finding a $100 bill on the ground and putting it in your pocket is stealing. The store can argue — rightly or wrongly — that it causes them to question your character, but I fail to see how it is stealing.

      • 34

        hannah says

        My spouse was working at a food store for a short time and he found $20 on the floor. He opted to turn it in so that it would not look bad, but never did get the money.
        We’re pretty sure the customer service employee just pocketed it, but at least he did not get accused of stealing.

        I think you got a bad deal getting fired, but unfortunately I think most retail stores these days would take that same course of action.

  28. 35

    You've Got Money says

    So i was walking my dog around my neighborhood and I spotted a dollar bill on the gound. The natural thing to do is pick it up, but what I did was look for money… and right in front of me was $20 bill and another one. I looked around to see if anybody was out but no one was out walking or picking up leaves or anything. I haven’t spent the money yet, I’m still deciding whether or not to hunt for the person who lost their money.

  29. 36

    Dev says

    I just found pretty heavy inside an envelope, just outside a gas station. I am trying to give this money back to the one who lost it, but I don’t know how. All I have is money inside an envelope with a bill of a store with his four last digit of credit/debit card. Is there any way I can track him and give this money to him. I really don’t want it to go to the wrong hand.

    • 37

      Len Penzo says

      Why don’t you give your number to the gas station manager. That way when the person who lost it retraces his steps he can give you a call. I’d also put a poster up in the window of the gas station, assuming management lets you, announcing you found a wallet. Make the claimant give you the last 4 digits of their credit card (and if you are still unsure, the name of the store they shopped at on the receipt, or what they bought there).

  30. 39

    larry grossman says

    I would return any large amount of money to the person who lost it. For varification I would need them to give me the serial numbers on the bills. This does not include drug dealers, I would just beg them not to kill me.

  31. 40

    jwd says

    try this hypothetical scenario:

    you see a piece of luggage on the side of the road that you are driving on and curiosity gets the better of you…you stop to retrieve it and find that both latches are unlocked and one is already open. you open the luggage all the way and find stacks of $100 bills totaling $2 million.

    There are no other vehicles or witnesses to your actions…just you and nature.

    Do you:

    1-Take it all home and say nothing to anyone?

    2-Take it to the nearest police station, explain the circumstances of your find and ask for a receipt to prove you dropped off the bag of money?

    3- Place ads in the Lost & Found section of several newspapers and detail where the bag was found but not the contents or description of the bag, requesting any interested party describe that to you for proof?

  32. 41

    Tim says

    I actually just found $20 In a gas station. A couple people were in and out but no one seemed to be searching for dropped money. It was in a bad part of town with shady characters and had the feeling if I approached these people they would just say it was theirs anyway. I even thought the clerk would just keep it. I went in my truck and sat there for 5 minutes to see if anyone came in looking for the cash with no luck. Now I am feeling guilty for keeping the money. Maybe I’ll give it to a charity or something like that. What are your thoughts?

  33. 42

    john says

    I was at a party last night and I found a £10 note on the floor I looked to see if anyone was looking for it but I dont think they noticed because they were most likely quite drunk I dont want to ask everyone if they lost it because knowing my friends half of them would say they did. That night someone who managed to get into the party uninvited stole a friends bag with their phone and train/bus card and also tried to steal the hosts nintendo wii. Anyway what shall I do I have considered giving the money to the person who had her bag stolen as a sort of compension even though im sure the money wasnt hers. If a person does come forward and say they lost the money i would give it to them but for now it is quite a nice find

  34. 43

    Larissa says

    Found $80 on the street next to the sidewalk today. I thought it was weird how they lost it at a outlet mall. Must have droppped it when the were leaving. So I’m just sitting here wondering about the person who dropped it. I hope it wasn’t from a hidden camera show thing. I shouted and pointed at it before I picked it up so whoever dropped it wasn’t around to hear me. I think I’ll use it to buy gifts for my loved ones :) Like Edward Scissorhands

  35. 44

    Tim says

    Hi. What a coincidence. My name is Tim too. And I found a $20 bill in a gas station tonight.. I’m concerned that maybe I did not do the thing that was right by my conscience.

    I was standing in line and had just pulled out my own $20 bill to pay for gas when I looked down a few feet in front of me and I saw a $20 folded in half, lying on the floor. I don’t remember whether or not I looked around first but after I picked it up Ilooked to the two customers in line in front. The guy directly in front. Of me had not yet taken out his wallet and the woman in front of him was at the counter with her billfold opened up. I know I. Didnt see the bill drop so I looked to the woman atr to see if she looked distressed. She didn’t. I still considered asking her if she had lost any money. I would have gladly given it back. But I wafraid if it wasn’t hers I would have to give it to the cashier. Another counter opened up and I went and paid for my gas. All the while listening to see if anyone mentioned losing it. I left after not hearing anything although I could have given another look. I feel sketchy and dishonest now because I don’t think I did all I could have done. I feel like crap now and wish I hadn’t seen the thing at all. What should I do?

    • 45

      Len Penzo says

      I don’t think I’d do anything at this point, Tim. I suspect whoever lost the $20 either: a) wrote it off, or b) won’t ever recognize that they lost it.

      It’s impossible to know for sure who dropped that bill. Would I have asked the lady at the front of the line if she had all her money? Yes. But if it makes you feel any better, based upon your story, I strongly suspect it wasn’t hers.

      Don’t beat yourself up and chalk it up to good fortune for you.

      Although, the next time you’re in a similar situation … speak up!

  36. 46

    Chris says

    Today,I found a 20 stuck in the hard mud (heavy frost) and pulled it out. It was about a foot from the kerb in a residential area. I picked it up but it’s a street with lots of apartments and cars so I wouldn’t really know where to start… what should I have done? Just left it? I am feeling guilty now, I am thinking of taking it back and just sticking it back in the mud which seems a bit of an extreme solution.

    • 47

      Len Penzo says

      I wouldn’t feel guilty. Enjoy the windfall! I suspect the money was lost long ago. Also, the amount is relatively small, so I suspect the odds are better than average that the person may not have ever missed it.

  37. 48

    Michael Miller says

    Let me make this clear for you people, some of you are idiots. Here’s my philosphy on finding money. If you’re stupid enough to not keep good hold of your money, then when someone like me finds it, well like they say…stuff happens! I’m not posting this to be a real iodiot, I have found purses and wallets on the ground and yes, I turned it in to the police or store owner. But all the times I’ve found loose money, which has been the amount of over $100 over the past year 1/2. You can bet your ass the money is mine, I mean come on do you do good deeds?? If so, it’s karma paying your ass back!! Last night I was at the mardi gras parade in Florida, I found $10 on the ground now if there’s over 35,000 people there you think I’m gonna fuckin ask every single person, if you think I would than you’re a effin idiot!! Moral of this story, keep hold of your effing money, cause if ya don’t tough!!

    • 49

      RJK says

      Well we know who the real idiot is now! And please don’t swear. It makes your comment look even more idiotic. Cheers😉

  38. 50

    Steven Quinlan says

    I’ve always hewed to the idea that if I can identify the owner, I will return it. Identifying the owner of loose change or a note in the street is virtually impossible.

    I also know from actual experience what I’d do if I find a wallet, filled with cash, personal documentation, drivers licenses and the like. I simply locate the owner, bag it up, and give it back to them.

    Interestingly enough, most of my friends whom I asked what they thought I should do felt I should have kept the money as a finders fee, but returned everything else.

    You know, it never even ocurred to me.

  39. 51

    david says

    The most I found was 160 dollars in cash on the ground at a music festival. I already received a comp ticket to the festival so my luck just got 160x better. I used all of it that night to buy alcohol for people.

  40. 52

    Guin says

    I am feeling a bit guilty because today I found what I thought was a $5 bill under my tire when I was pumping gas. It turned out to be a $50 which gives me much more pause (and guilt) than a fiver. However, it was outdoors, no one was around except me and a guy who pulled in after me. It could have been dropped there but it’s been very windy lately so it also could have blown in from any of the nearby businesses. Sure, I could have taken it inside but I really don’t trust a convenience store cashier to not pocket it. Although, had I found it inside the store I absolutely would have turned it in.

  41. 54

    Akai says

    I found $300 today in the grocery store and turned it in…it’s what my heart told me to do..but my wallet was a little angry with me….hope the owner was able to get it!

  42. 55

    gb says

    I’m broker than broke…. I just found a wallet in the mens room at my job. $115 in cash inside… I had to turn it in. I felt bad even counting it. I hope karma pays off.

    • 56

      Len Penzo says

      It will, gb.

      For what it is worth, I would have turned it in too. It was the right thing to do. After all, that wasn’t a random $20 laying in the gutter.

  43. 57

    kayli1903 says

    I just recently lost 50 dollars in dollar tree. It was a couple of twenties and some ones that I just earned waitressing all day. If it were just twenty, I would expect someone to pick it up and use it to their advantage. However, I think anything more than that and especially if it is not just a 50 dollar bill that the person should have informed the manager. I went back two times frantic because of the fact that I am a full time student who works over 30 hours a week and that is a full tank of gas which means the world. If it were dropped outside, then yes take it because there is no way to find the owner.

    • 58

      Len Penzo says

      What a bummer, Kayli. I’m very sorry. I’m sure it won’t make you feel any better but, for what it’s worth, I agree with you.

  44. 59

    Olivia says

    When our son was about ten he brought his clothing allowance to date (about $30) with him to the local thrift store and either dropped it around the ranks or in the dressing room. It was in an envelope. No one returned it. It was a considerable hit for him as at that point our budget was $120 per person a year. And it meant he couldn’t buy anything. So I think this rule would be best. if it’s lost inside a building, bring it to customer service. If it’s blowing down the street and you don’t see anyone who looks like they may have lost it and if it’s a larger bill bring it to the police station. If it’s a smaller bill then keep it. But make every effort to return it.

  45. 60

    Chris says

    My then 9-year old son found a $100 bill laying on the ground of a retail store. He brought it directly to me and I struggled with the “right thing to do”. This was a teachable moment for my son and I felt we had to make an honest effort to find the owner and return the money. He and I walked up and down every nearby aisle looking for someone that was clearly in search of their missing cash. We found no one…

    We ended up talking to the store manager and telling them we found a substantial amount of cash in section xxxxxx of the store; I did not turn it over or state exactly how much we found as I feared it would just end up in the manager’s pocket. I did leave my name and number and told the manager if anyone came in asking about the cash, to have them call me.

    After a week of no calls re: the cash, it was deposited to the bank in my son’s name.

  46. 61

    Steve says

    I lost a $100 bill along with other cash, maybe $200 total. The cash was rubber banded to my credit cards and driver’s license. I know, not the smartest way to carry stuff. When I discovered the missing cards, money and license, i returned to the parking lot of the grocery where I figured I had lost them, probably when I pulled car keys from my pocket. Nothing to be found, no surprise, and nothing turned in to the store. The following day an envelope appeared in my mail with the credit cards and driver’s license enclosed. I was astounded, first by the timeliness and the fact that I’d gotten anything back.
    The story gets better. At a gathering at my home the next day I related what had happened and how relieved I was to get back the cards and license. One of those hearing the story asked, “Was there a $100 bill in the cash that was lost?” I indicated there was and he then said, “I know where your $100 bill is. I found it on the floor of the pizza place near where I live and gave it to the owner with the hope he could find the previous customer who probably dropped it.” The following Sunday the man who is a church friend presented me with my $100 bill which the owner of the store gave back to him since no one had claimed it. The whole incident has been fascinating to say the least. There was plenty of doing the right thing by every one involved and I feel blessed to have been part of it.

  47. 63

    Amanda says

    I would like to think I would turn in anything over $50 where the owner could reasonably be identified.

    Last year I was pumping gas one morning during a downpour and noticed a bunch of scratcher tickets on the ground. Grumbling about lazy slobs who can’t even hit the trash bin a few feet away, I picked them up and realized they weren’t scratched yet. It was five $1 tickets. I debated turning them in, but did not want to run through the rain just before work to do so, so I tossed them in my car and went on my way. I felt a little guilty, especially as one of those tickets won $2, but then I used that to buy a $2 scratcher on which I won nothing.

    If those tickets had been lost with something with a name on it, though, there is so way I would have kept them. Losing a driver’s license or credit card is much more nerve wracking than losing some cash. And returning the IDs and not the other stuff found with it feels really sleazy.

    • 64

      Steve says

      I would suppose the finder rationalized that the cash was a “finder’s fee”. I would have much preferred to have had the opportunity to offer the person a reward for getting the cards and license back to me.

  48. 65


    I found $10 once. Kept it. At work, we have found a lot of money, and it is all taped up to an office door. Nobody claimed it. It’s been years. We should probably buy donuts.

    When I was 17, I used to read the lost and found in the paper for fun. My mom was a bank teller. She came home from work one day and said that someone lost money that week and someone else found it and turned it in to the bank (it was in a bank envelope).

    I said “yeah, $92″. She looked at me like I was crazy. “How did you know that? I didn’t tell you that! It’s secret until we find the owner.” I said “oh, someone put a note in the lost and found that they lost $92″.

    So the owner got their $92 back (well, they gave me a finder’s fee of $2).

    • 66

      Len Penzo says

      Marcia, I laughed at the $2 finders fee, and then I remembered … you could actually buy some decent stuff for $2 a long time ago. (Now, I’m crying.)

  49. 67

    Deb says

    With some time to kill, I admired a tooled leather purse at a flea market booth one December Saturday when my kids were small and my car was being repaired. Doing what all women do, I looked inside: a white hanky, black pen, and a wad of folded money were inside. I decided to buy that purse–it was marked $4.00. I figured I’d take my chances if the clerk looked inside (she didn’t). When I got home, I counted the money–$137.00. I had a little more money for Christmas gifts that year!

  50. 68

    Sassy Mamaw says

    I have found money on more than one occasion, over the years. The largest amount was a $20 bill on the floor of a grocery store. I went to the service desk and asked if anyone had reported losing money. When they said no, I kept it.

    Same thing happened at work. Found a $20 on the floor. I took it to my supervisor, and they said if no one reported it within 10 days, I would get it. And 10 days later, they gave me the money.

    I was leaving a fast food place one time and found $5 right outside the door. It wasn’t there when I had entered, so I took it in and asked if it belonged to anyone. A young man in line claimed it.

  51. 69

    Anita says

    I once found a purse in a shopping cart outside the Target. Took it home and called the person (from her driver’s license) and called the police. The purse had $800, jewelry and medicine. Packed for a vacation! The police came and took the purse back to its owner. I later received a $50 Target gift card in the mail.

  52. 70


    I have never found any bills lying in the ground ever. I found a couple of coins though.
    Just to answer your question, I will definitely return the money to its rightful owner, but if I can’t find him or her, I will just donate the money to charity.

  53. 71


    Last summer, my family and I were on a bike ride on a gravel path. I was riding behind my wife and suddenly yelled “Stop!” and braked to a halt. I jumped off my bike and I think my wife thought I was having a medical emergency or something. I took a few steps back and confirmed what I don’t even really recall seeing but somehow my brain had processed: Money! It was a 20 dollar bill. It was very dust covered so it had been there awhile, and there wasn’t anybody within a quarter mile of us anyways. I added it to our ‘go out for ice cream’ fund :)

  54. 72

    Samiam says

    My wife and I once found a checkbook with about $700 inside in Wendy’s and turned it in to the manager. We saw the owner return to claim it and he was definitely did not look like a person of means – I’m guessing it was his rent money. We absolutely did the right thing in this case

    On the other hand I was with a mutual friend who found 2 $100 bills in an elevator in an automated municipal parking ramp with nobody around. I had no qualms keeping my half.

  55. 74


    I like to always at least try when I find lost anything. The big problem with trying to return lost money I found in a crowded public place is that everyone is going to try to claim that it was originally theirs

  56. 75

    Catseye says

    I think the same way you do, Len. I’ve found a $5 bill in front of my apartment building several years ago and had no problem keeping it. Also found a $1 bill near the same location a few months later.
    In October 2012, I was gassing up at a Walmart and spotted a wad of cash next to a car’s front tire. The car’s driver was busy at the gas pump and hadn’t seen me. I asked her if she’d lost something and when she asked me, “Like what?”, I showed it to her. The look on her face was priceless – an “OMG, that’s my money!” look. She rewarded me with $25. I felt a little funny about taking it, but didn’t want to seem ungracious. Besides, I wasn’t working at the time and could definitely use it. I figured that she’d just gotten her entire paycheck cashed and could afford to be generous. I just hope she’s become more careful with money since then.

  57. 76

    Kate says

    Years ago, I found $5 on the floor at the supermarket. I looked up, and the first thing I saw was the Salvation Army bucket. So I put it in there.

  58. 77


    I remember before, when my younger sister was only eight years old, she found a PHP 500 equivalent to $12. She picked it up and we’ve waited for 5 minutes if somebody would ask about the money, but then no one came to us. So we decided to put it on her personal savings.

  59. 78

    deb z says

    Back in ’82 I watched a man drop something from his pocket at the worlds fair. I ran over and picked up a folded bill and yelled after him hey mister you dropped something g. He turned and snarled at me to leave him the bleeping bleep alone and left fast. Mom saw the whole thing and judged I should keep the bill…which turned out to be $100! When we realized it was so much he was long gone.

    But I have always said the only way I could rationalize keeping a large sum would be if it was wrapped up with illegal drugs…some levels of stupid just don’t need to be treated like intelligence.

  60. 79

    Barry says

    So while I was working I have found money on the floor it was an 100 dollar bill, the only confusing part about the situation was that it wasn’t any where near the register, and I haven’t taken any customers that had cash… So I assume it was either a customers or my draw, so I didn’t give it in yet I ask a manager to count the draw so that it was for sure my register, she came back told me that the draw was missing 100 and I gave the 100 dollars to her telling her that the money was not near the register and I picked it up not intentionally going to keep it but to make sure, she told me that what i did was wrong. Now my question is, in this scenario can I get fired for my actions ?

    • 80

      Len Penzo says

      I don’t see how what you did was wrong, Barry. I would have asked my manager to check to see that the money in the drawer matched the register receipts without mentioning the $100 you found. Then, if it was $100 short, I’d turn in the money. If not, I would have kept the $100 for myself.

      Heck, your manager may have told you the register was $100 short and then kept the money for herself!

  61. 81

    Karen says

    I once found $78 lying on the edge of a sidewalk on my way to the apartment complex. I pocketed it. The complex I live at is expensive enough that whoever dropped it could probably make it back in a day.

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