# Ethical Dilemna - Finding Money In Random Places

## At what dollar amount would you have initiated an investigation?

8.7%

52.2%

39.1%
4. ### A bag full of cash ( possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars )

30.4%
1. Jan 31, 2009

### GCT

I just found a ten dollar bill while taking a walk through my suburbia , it's seemed pretty obvious to me that there was no dilemna to be acknolwedged here and that it was perfectly fine to keep the money - am I going to ring the doorbell on every house and ask " is this your 10 bucks " - the answer to that is no.

So here is the question - at what dollar amount would you have sensed the obligation to initiate an investigation before you kept it?

2. Jan 31, 2009

### Staff: Mentor

Is it in a money bag like a business uses and might have been a theft or a paper bag?

If it's in a plain paper bag, it's mine.

3. Jan 31, 2009

### Kurdt

Staff Emeritus
I found five pounds on the floor of the local shop yesterday. I gave it to the woman on the checkout in case somebody came back for it. I've also given as little as a pound back when I got too much change before. Of course it depends on the situation but in most cases I'd at least try something to find the person who lost it.

4. Jan 31, 2009

### rootX

Recently, there was one similar thread (not the same subject) - about one old lady finding 10K.

It depends on where you found them
- a place where all people are rich (1000 would be mine answer in that case)
- a place where people cannot afford to lose 10 (10$in that case) - bad neighborhood (best not to touch the money) (I would never investigate) 5. Jan 31, 2009 ### Evo ### Staff: Mentor I found 3 dollars in the change dispenser at an automated check out. I gave it to the clerk overseeing the check out stands, just in case the person realized they forgot their change, that was an undertandible mistake and i wouldn't feel right taking it. But a paper bag lying in the road with hundreds of thousands of dollars = my lucky day. That's really dumb. I would donate part of it to the local animal shelters though. GCT, you forgot an option for "none of the above". Last edited: Jan 31, 2009 6. Jan 31, 2009 ### russ_watters ### Staff: Mentor Unless the quantity is huge, it depends on the container. If you literally find a big pile of cash in the street, it may actually be illegal to take it if it fell out of an armored car, even if it isn't in a bag. 7. Jan 31, 2009 ### russ_watters ### Staff: Mentor 8. Jan 31, 2009 ### Evo ### Staff: Mentor 9. Jan 31, 2009 ### rootX Who carries more than 1000 cash either in plain or marked paper bag? I think most people use credit cards. I don't own one but I do shopping with my university card + debit card. I never have cash of more than 200. 10. Jan 31, 2009 ### lisab Staff Emeritus I don't think I would go door-to-door finding the rightful owner of ten dollars, but I couldn't keep it either. At my grocery store there's a food bank collection box - I'd put it in an envelope and put it in the box. Especially now, they need it more than I do. A hundred dollars? Yeah, I'd probably knock on a few doors, at least. 11. Jan 31, 2009 ### Evo ### Staff: Mentor I would just assume that some dishonest person would say that it's theirs. I guess I don't have much faith in people in general. 12. Jan 31, 2009 ### LowlyPion Good luck with that. Money blowing in the wind? What crime is that again? My guess is they didn't prosecute a single person. It sounds like a scare tactic to hopefully jog some consciences and encourage whatever recovery they could. Whoever spilled it was on the hook. If it was a really lot of money, I'd turn it in immediately and then reread Steinbeck's The Pearl, before I started second-guessing myself. 13. Jan 31, 2009 ### CRGreathouse Back when I was in high school I found a$10 bill on the floor and turned it in to the Dean.

14. Jan 31, 2009

### Hurkyl

Staff Emeritus
Wikipedia has something, but the references seem to be broken.

15. Jan 31, 2009

### LowlyPion

If a law can't be enforced, it has no practical effect.

The idea that there would be prosecution is pretty absurd under the circumstances of the situation, and it was clearly a hollow threat. Personally I'd be tempted not to turn it in if that was their attitude.

16. Jan 31, 2009

### Staff: Mentor

Taking something that isn't yours would be called "theft"...
Definitely not a scare tactic, but it may have been hard to identify anyone. I'll see if i can find links about people prosecuted for this...

17. Jan 31, 2009

Under the law it maybe called theft. But I'd say it is highly improbable, if you didn't incriminate yourself by say bragging you found $350 and had a great night at the bar, telling anyone and everyone, that anything could be proved. So they have your picture? They have you picking up something? Cash is highly fungible and proving it as theirs and how much it was absent recovery in your possession and your refusal to cooperate, I'd say there's virtually no case. 18. Jan 31, 2009 ### Proton Soup since all money is uniquely identifiable, it is a reasonable request to ask that they provide serial numbers. 19. Jan 31, 2009 ### Hurkyl Staff Emeritus You asked what crime was committed. You got an answer. Talk about whether or not there is a case is irrelevant to whether or not it's a crime. :tongue: Angling back to the original topic you seem to be pushing for the "it's okay to commit a crime if you don't get caught" school of ethics... is that intentional? 20. Jan 31, 2009 ### Mk I believe this reminds me of admiralty law. The captain's word is law. When he goes out in the ocean on his boat, he has a 40 foot floating country. It's his country and he is a dictator. He can throw you in the brig for anything he wants. If I'm floating out there in the ocean on my boat and I find another boat and there's nobody on it, who owns it? Me, now, I'm the captain! It's called salvage rights. I found it, no body else claimed it, end of story, and it's not theft. Everybody has a right to due process under common law, but this definitely isn't common law since the ownership of what property is not clearly defined. 21. Feb 1, 2009 ### NeoDevin If the bills were sequential, or the serial numbers recorded, then it's possible that they could catch someone using them. If they're non-sequential and the numbers unrecorded, it would be virtually impossible to trace them. 22. Feb 1, 2009 ### Sorry! but say the captain of that ship and all his crew had been blown off the ship by a wave just as u were passing and were swimming back to get on to the boat... and you just hop on their ship cause no ones on it and take off with it. i'm sure thats called theft. btw i'd still keep the money... not saying its right but does it really matter? the person that lost it should take better care of their money i would expect the same if i had lost money of my own. i'm not going to be mad at anyone except for myself. a wallet or something on the other hand... if it had like ID or important information etc. then i would definately give that back cause those dumb documents take FOREVER to get all back lol 23. Feb 1, 2009 ### russ_watters ### Staff: Mentor That's a clearly defined case: the true owner of the ship can still rightfully claim it - that's in the link that Hurkyl posted. That applies to the money (and anything else) too. The problem in the case of the money is whether or not the true owner can actually identify it. Note: that's a different question than whether it is illegal to take it. 24. Feb 1, 2009 ### arildno As I see it, property can be juridically lost, in that priorly owned objects become ownerless objects. If a person cannot make a probable case for the ownership of some item, then his CLAIM that it is his property is nothing more than that, a claim, to be judged alongside others. If a finder of some object on basis of the type of object may conclude in good faith that the original possessor (whether owner or not) cannot be found, then "finders keepers" is a valid principle. If I see an old woman losing a 100$ note out of her pocket, then I am necessarily a thief in keeping it for myself.
If I came half an hour later, and stumbled across that note, I would not necessarily be a thief in keeping it for myself.

25. Feb 1, 2009

### wildman

Before taking the bag with thousands of dollars, watch the movie "No Country for Old Men". Might make you think twice.

But seriously, a bag with thousands of dollars would probably be drug money. If it is marked, spending it might land you in real trouble.