Is it okay to keep money found on the ground? I mean … What are the ethics of found money?
The reason I bring this up is because last week, while walking in a parking lot, I found a $10 bill laying on the pavement. And 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 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 $80 today.
Hey, give a kid eighty 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 $100 bill laying on the floor of any business establishment. Or, say, the backseat of a taxi. That’s because, in both cases, I can easily envision the owner quickly determining exactly where he lost his cash.
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 $100 bill you find on the ground, rather than 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: shutterstock