The mind twists and contorts as it ponders a question like this. What would you do?
You’re happening down the road, when you run into this, lying on the street:
Well, it wasn’t a theoretical question for this man, Eli Estrada, who actually DID find the money in such a way.
Bundled together after having fallen off of a Brinks truck, he estimates its weight at around 35 pounds.
According to the story from CNN in this video, Eli returned the money, and was paid $2,000 for his good nature. Most people’s first reactions are “Is that IT?!?”, or “I would have kept it!”, or the ever-popular-on-the-internet phrase, “Two Words: Hookers. Blow.”.
Would You Return The Money?
Keep in mind that when you find large amounts of money like this, keeping it is federal grand theft and punishable by a very hefty prison sentence. If you’re not the prison going type, that may add some pause to your answer.
As Estrada said, it wasn’t his to begin with, so the money was appreciated. In essence, he made $2,000 for a few minutes of trouble. Calculated that way, very few people will ever make that much money in one hour doing anything else legally.
You’d walk away a little richer, able to live your life with a clear conscience and one less stressful worry on your mind.
But What If You KEPT The Money?
And now we get to the good part. What if you found this money and kept it? Personally, my primary worry would be surveillance. As a law-abiding citizen, if I decided I would use this money for myself, my first worry would constantly be stressing every time my phone rang with an unusual number, the doorbell rang unexpectedly, or a car seemed to be following me a little too closely.
After a few months, I could rest. By then videotapes would have been seen, usual suspects checked, etc. But now comes the issue of USING the money. The IRS tracks many deposits and purchases involving $10,000 or more, so simply depositing it would be out of the question.
I’d be far too scared to exchange any of it into cashier’s checks, use it at the grocery store, or really anywhere that could, upon being questioned about where THEY received the bills, use video surveillance or other identification, to point back to me.
I imagine I’d have to keep the same job, live the same lifestyle, but supplement small purchases, tips, etc. with the money. Enough to build plausible deniability so that if questioned, I can just shrug and say that it must have been change from the store or something.
A large safe tucked away could hide it, but I’d have to be organized. As a normal guy, I have no knowledge of how to launder money, clean money, or any of that, save for what I see in movies and on television. Even though they were unmarked bills, I have no way of knowing that things still couldn’t get traced back to me.
The Hardest Part Of Keeping It: The Secrecy
I doubt you could call any blogger, whether they blog about personal issues or other things, a truly private person. I don’t know that I have ever kept a big secret from everyone but myself. There’s always that one family member or friend that you feel you trust until the days end and we meet our maker(s).
But you know well enough that one person knowing a secret like this is too much. Because, like you, THEY have people they trust as well. And so do those people, and so on.
What Do YOU Think?
So what would you do? Should he have kept it? Should he have given it back? If YOU kept it, how would you plan on spending/investing/using it?