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If you found a large sum of money, what would you do?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 12, 2013 8:11 AM PST

To give you some perspective to this poll, read this CNET article: Man buys cheap desk on Craigslist, finds $98,000 inside

If you found a large sum of money like this man, what would you do?

-- Keep the money.
-- Contact previous owner of desk and return the money.
-- Hold the money for a long period of time, and if the previous owner never brings it up, keep the money.
-- Call the previous owner to see if they know what's missing, and if they do, return it. If not, keep the money.
-- Other. (What would you do?)

Place your poll votes here:

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I would.......
by Carol~ Moderator / November 12, 2013 8:15 AM PST

give it to...... YOU!! Devil

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What in the world would I do with that money?
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 12, 2013 8:26 AM PST
In reply to: I would.......
Grin Thanks for thinking of me Carol!
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What would you do with that money?
by Dale E Marcum / November 12, 2013 10:45 AM PST

Being a woodworker for many years I can tell you with absolute certainty that $97,000 would put a finish on that furniture that would knock your eyes out!

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I was kidding Dale...
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 13, 2013 1:36 AM PST

Believe me, I could do a lot with 98k, but until I have it in front of me, it's not mine.


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If you found a large sum of money what would you do/
by worddiva / November 12, 2013 8:53 AM PST

I wish could keep the money, but i couldn't. My little voice would keep saying 'what would you want someone to do if it was you?". So I would call and let them know.


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Lots of money?
by cyberpigue / November 12, 2013 9:00 AM PST

Of course I would. Now, if it were something less significant, something like a cool inexpensive pen, I'd probably just keep it. And again, of course, that shouldn't matter, should it? Anything "not desk" should be returned.

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I'd do some research, first.
by Call_Me / November 12, 2013 9:04 AM PST

I have an exceedingly strong moral compass but I'm not dumb!

I don't care if I found a loose earring or the aforementioned $98,000.00 in the desk, I'd still do the same action: I'd call up the previous owner and feign curiousity about the desk's history.

Had it been in the family forever? Did the person that sold it find it in an alley? There's no sense being a fool and making someone else a gift of a fortune because you didn't do your research.

Actually, this situation DID happen to me, years ago, with a lesser sum of money. I bought a set of old vintage luggage at a Thrift Store. I used it for years as storage for Winter Clothes. One day, the mirror on the smaller Vanity luggage came off, and a $1,000 in money dating from the 1950's fell out from behind the mirror, all in hundreds.

It had been 5 years since I bought the set but I went back to the Thrift Store with the vanity case, asking the owner of the store if they remembered who donated it. She said that it came from an Estate Sale of a woman who died with no heirs; her building superintendent had cleared out her place and donated it all.

So, I tried to find the rightful owner, but there were none. I metered out that money as if it were gold nuggets, mindful of the fortune I was gifted. I still have one moldy smelling $100 bill left; just as a reminder of how fortune's come and go.

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C or D for me
by gslrider / November 12, 2013 9:05 AM PST

It would be C or D for me. More D than C. What if the 98K didn't belong to the person you bought the desk from? What if they had bought the desk from someone else. The last thing you want to do is tell them what you found. If it is truly theirs, and they had forgotten about it, asking them if they had left anything in the desk would be enough to jog their memory. Don't tell them what you found. Just mention that you wanted to make sure that they hadn't left anything. $98K inheritance is a little bit hard to forget, and it would jog anyone's memory. If they say "no", then chances are it wasn't theirs. But I would still hold on to it for a while longer just in case. 6 months.

I know I couldn't forget an inheritance like that. In fact, if I inherited that much cash, I'd either invest it, put it in the bank, or a safety deposit box. Not behind some desk drawer. That's completely irresponsible. Unless the money was stolen. hmmm. Then that's a whole different story. lol

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If I found a large sum of money
by honnybear / November 12, 2013 10:25 AM PST
In reply to: C or D for me

I was put C as my answer but my thoughts went more in the direction you went. I agree with everything you said I was to quick to answer. When ever I have found anything in the past (with ID) I would never turn it in to police or anyone else because I trust no one.

I have always contacted the person and would never except a reward because I don't think you should take a reward for doing what is right.

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A kid would know...
by cedarail / November 12, 2013 9:16 AM PST

As a high schooler I used to baby sit for the kids next door. At Christmas the parents gave me a gift with a brand new wallet in it . After they left for the evening I reopened the box and just admired the nice gift...and discovered $100 in bills under the wrappings. When the parents returned the wife thanked me profusely for returning the money which she had tucked there for safe keeping until she could finish Christmas shopping and forgot where she left it. In 1960 $ 100 was a lot of money. I felt sort of deflated for a few moments but realized that this was the right action to take and enjoyed Christmas all the more.
In response to the situation at hand (the desk )I'd have to say I'd call and ask whether the original owner was missing anything and if they could identify the missing stuff I'd return it...with a few pointed questions asked. But reality sets in and I would expect a reward for my efforts.

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Thank you
by gritchie1 / November 12, 2013 10:16 AM PST
In reply to: A kid would know...

At least you got a "Thank You." Back in 1963 (when I was 13), I found a wallet with $140 in it in a phone booth. After a momentary tussle with my conscience, I phoned the owner of the wallet (his number was in the wallet), waited by the booth for 40 minutes and returned the wallet to the owner. No reward (not even the dime I spent to call him) and no "Thank you." I'd do the same today, but 50 years on... it still stings.

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Sorry for rude people, gritchie
by Call_Me / November 12, 2013 10:50 AM PST
In reply to: Thank you

Well, I'll "Thank You", gritchie, 50 years after the fact, for doing the right thing. But we both know, there's cheapskates 50 years ago and still today.

Last week, a client of mine had a "broken" garage door and she was freaking out about it. She had to park her Lexus on the city street and was worried about it being stolen/broken into/etc. The garage company couldn't come out for 4 days to look at it so I offered. Seems that she accidently hit the LOCK button on the door control, and that's what was "broken". I corrected it and came back into her house, telling her I fixed it and how I did it. She then said, "Great! You just saved me a $100 in a service call."

And that was that! No "Thank You". No $5 buck gift card to Starbuck's. Nuttin'. She's a Trust Fund Baby and I was there to shut down her irrigation system for the Winter.

Hope she does something positive with that $100 bucks I "saved" her. LOL I guess it takes all kinds, right?

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by heig / November 12, 2013 10:57 AM PST
In reply to: Thank you

gritchie1, what you did was exemplary. You did the right thing even though the person who owned the wallet was a complete clod. However, this current poll is somewhat different. You knew with almost certainty who the money in a wallet belonged to, but money behind a desk drawer could have been placed there many owners ago. What happens here should depend on the previous owner being able to describe some of the details that only the person putting it there would know. How much, bills of what denomination, etc? We can check the dates on the bills to determine approx. when the last 'deposit' was made. Those who say they would simply give it to the guy who picked up the desk at a yard sale intending to resell it are full of BS (as another poster put it). We need to identify the rightful owner -- just as you did with the wallet. BTW, you get an "atta-girl" from me. Hope that counts some.

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by heig / November 12, 2013 11:02 AM PST
In reply to: Good!

Excuse the gender reference in my last post. I have no idea if it is an "atta-girl" or "atta-boy", but whatever it is, good show!

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by Badknee / November 12, 2013 11:36 AM PST
In reply to: Thank you

That's from one 63-year old to another 63-year old. Blush

Isn't it amazing what we can remember from 50 years ago... 1963, 13-years old... FINALLY a teenager... what a wonderful year that was. Still remember riding in a new '63 'Vette... an older friend had one... didn't want to get out of the car. Blush BTW, I never did get a 'Vette. Angry

Thanks again for your honesty. Don't you wish more had been, or, WERE BEING raised like that???


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There was a story like that in Saginaw, MI @ 50 years ago.
by RobertWFrei / November 12, 2013 1:47 PM PST
In reply to: Thank you

I recall a similar thing happening in Saginaw, Michigan about 50 years ago. Money had been left in a bag on top of a car, and it blew off as the car was driving. A kid found the bag along the road, and took it to the Saginaw News which ran the story to find the owner. The owner correctly identified the amount - which was substantial, according to the paper, and reclaimed it, but never said thank you to the kid, and gave no reward. The owner was never identified publicly, but I understand that several readers shamed that owner by offering to pay a reward to the honest kid themselves. I remember all of this because my grandmother, my parents, and my pastor all used it as the basis for a discussion about honesty being its own reward.

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Wrong reason
by fivecentfamily / November 12, 2013 9:25 PM PST
In reply to: Thank you

If you do the right thing looking for a thank you or some other reward, than your not doing it for the right reason, anyway.

Why EXPECT anything? What you returned wasn't yours. You did what you SHOULD have done. No reward is necessary, though it certainly is NICE to hear or get.

And of course, in the reverse situation, I know I would be sure to heartily thank and possibly reward (based on what was recovered) the honest person. But that's my CHOICE, not a REQUIREMENT.

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large sum found?
by Ggmman / November 12, 2013 9:18 AM PST

What goes around...

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I would return the money.
by Joemelch / November 12, 2013 9:32 AM PST

Too many people would keep the money. Maybe 1 person at a time can help fix the moral compass of our country.

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Moral Compass?
by heig / November 12, 2013 10:32 AM PST

Hopefully not to get too political in a tech forum, but many folks feel the problem is one of stupidity, not a 'bad' moral compass. The right thing to do is get the money back to the rightful owner, but how do we know that is not three or four owners ago? Many people go to yard and estate sales looking for items they can resell on Craigs list. We don't know enough of the details here to make a moral judgment about our country in general.

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Return the Money
by pjmckenna / November 12, 2013 9:46 AM PST

I would contact the previous owner of the desk and return the money. I think most other people would too.

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Other... between choices B & D ;-)
by dedanaw / November 12, 2013 9:46 AM PST

I would definitely contact previous owner of the desk and say, "Yo, did you intentionally leave money in the desk I bought from you?" The conversation would proceed from there... if previous owner was freaking out of lost money, I would return the amount said previous owner had lost. I would ask the amount, hoping that it was less than the large sum I had "found" but my stupid conscience would force me to admit the total that I found in that desk. Ugh.

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Capital "B," capital "S"
by gritchie1 / November 12, 2013 9:50 AM PST

44% of the folks polled would return the money? Capital "B," capital "S." If the previous owner didn't give enough of a damn to look through the desk before giving it away, he or she is clearly not overly concerned. If get a call, I give it back. If not... come to papa. Happy

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No Bull...
by geporto / November 12, 2013 10:54 AM PST

Most people have values. I am talking about the Majority, not the ones most seen in TV, like politician, heads of corporations, and alike. And, for the most part, that majority is honest, and DO act honestly.
At the same time, the majority is not stupid. (Despite 50% of the results in the elections)
And no being stupid, if I were the one finding a big amount of cash in ANY way, I'll be REALLY fast at returning it, no questions asked. Why? Many people handle big amounts of cash every day. But only few misplace it. And, in most cases, those people answer for that to other people like them, not very nice. And when they find who is that has THEIR money now, they get it back. Their way.
Many times along my life, I wished NOT to suddenly get unexpected money coming to me. Most of the times are the result of being the life insurance of somebody that loved you enough to put you as the beneficiary. And, typically, we love back.
It may have something to do with the whole thing the fact that I have been happily married for 35 years, have three loving, healthy and successful kids, and a three month old grandson. Love
Try to buy any of that with money!!! The recipe calls for 55% Love, 35% Work, 5% luck, and about 5% money... helps.

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That's the problem...
by fivecentfamily / November 12, 2013 9:30 PM PST

...with this world.

Everyone thinks that everyone else is out to get there's, so I should get mine when I can, too. The thing is it's not really that way. MOST people ARE generally honest, though they do have some caveats (like expecting someone to KNOW they lost something and/or ask for it back).

However, even if we ALL think the other person is a crook, does that give US the "right" to do the wrong thing? Personally, I don't think so.

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Returning the money
by Crack_It / November 12, 2013 11:02 PM PST

I clicked my vote a little too hastily. I should have chosen "D". I've returned large sums of money (Well at 6, $100 is a fortune), jewelry, and other items to rightful owners in my short life. I was taught by my parents to distinguish between rightful owners and "wanters". When asking questions, "wanters" will give general descriptions but not make any claims to markings, designs, identifying marks whereas rightful owners would be able to tell you about the scratch on the inside of a ring that happened when the ring was dropped down the garbage disposal ten years ago. I would attempt to find the money's rightful owner and not just a "wanter". This desk may or may not have been "Patty's" to begin with. Keeping 98,000 dollars to me wouldn't sit right. I definitely would enjoy the extra money in my pocket and could find a use for such a large sum. Would I keep it if I couldn't find a rightful owner, yes. If I found the rightful owner, it would pain me to see that much money leave my hands, but it was never mine to begin with.

On a personal note, "I forgot I hid my inheritance in there!" sounds a bit dodgy to me. Blindly giving back money to a potential "wanter" would make me just as uneasy as keeping the money.

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Contact previous owner of desk and return the money..NOPE:)
by newshoes / November 12, 2013 9:52 AM PST

I've got a friend who tells me I've got a good heart.
Of course that could be because he owes me $400:)

Hahah but there is NO way I'm asking the seller about the desk once I got it home.
Possession is 9/10ths of the law, right?:)

Hahah as I type this I'm listening to a song by Phish called "All Things Considered."
And I now Consider the money MINE:)

To me, questions like this people answer to make themselves look/feel good.
My honest answer is, which way to Best Buy:)

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In the case given you purchased an as is desk
by maxparot / November 12, 2013 10:01 AM PST

Legally unless you know the money was proceeds of a crime the contents of the desk is part of the purchase.
If the seller was a stranger and they didn't know of the cash and wouldn't miss it the question becomes what will your personal morals allow you to feel comfortable with. If the seller was in better financial condition than myself at the time would weigh into my decision as does the sum. If we are both I fair financial condition living a reasonable equal life style and making ends meet. I may keep it. If the sellers finances weren't in good condition and mine were I would be likely to be charitable in considering how much to return.

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I'm not sure we'd know until it happened, but I believe...
by wpgwpg / November 12, 2013 10:09 AM PST

...I'd call the previous owner to see if they know what's missing, and if they do, return it. If not, keep the money. But I wouldn't spend it for 6 mos. just in case.

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by heig / November 12, 2013 10:12 AM PST

Obviously most people are going to say they will give the money to the previous owner because they think that is the 'correct' answer. But what if it doesn't belong to the previous owner? Suppose the previous three owners of the desk had no idea the money was in there? You can ask the previous owner if he ever stored money in the desk -- and how much. If he doesn't have a clue how much I would feel no obligation to give it TO HIM, but if any previous owner came to me with close to the exact amount it would obviously be theirs and I would hand it over. That's why I would hold it for a while for the rightful owner to come and claim it, but the last owner before me is the only one I have "a duty" to ask.

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