If You Found $10K, Would You Keep It Or Return It?


The huge windfall was tempting. One hundred $100 bills and three singles were flying in the air, waiting to be claimed. That’s $10,003 of tax-free easy money. 

Steve Harrison scooped them up after pulling up to a Costco parking lot in King County, Washington. But then he found something else: a wallet. 

After using his own money to pay for purchases at Costco, Harrison started the process of tracking down the money’s rightful owner. 

“I never took seriously the notion of keeping it,” Harrison told the Seattle Times. “It’s just simpler to do the right thing. Once I realized that there was an ID involved, I knew I would return the money.” 

The wallet contained the driver’s license and the name of a man who lived about a mile away: Michael King. He ran into a friend, told him about the incident and asked if he knew King. 

“Yeah, I know him,” his friend said, laughing. “Keep the money.” 

But Harrison did no such thing. Instead, he had his friend call and ask King if he was missing anything. 

Turns out King had taken out the money from the bank to cover a business debt. But he became distracted at some point, and accidentally left his wallet on his vehicle before going home. 

“I just took the withdrawal that day, and I don’t know what compelled me to leave it on the bumper of the truck,” King told the Times. “… I am just flabbergasted that it didn’t get picked up by somebody else. It would have crippled us to have that amount of money disappear.” 

The next chapter in the story seems obvious: a reward. 

Yes, there was one. But with a twist. 

King could not afford to give Harrison any money. Instead, he offered a jar of homemade applesauce and promised home-smoked salmon, homemade blackberry jam and other tasty treats would be forthcoming. 

“He was like, ‘Thank you, but I can’t give you any reward.’ Right off the bat,” Harrison said. “And I was like, ‘OK, let’s get this over with, shall we?’” 

Done deal. Enjoy the applesauce with a slice of good conscience, Mr. Harrison.

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