Would You Return $1,800 In Cash You Found At An ATM?

Just imagine — no need to insert your card or tap in your PIN, there’s money sitting right there, sticking out of an ATM deposit slot, waiting for you to pocket it. Would you do it, or would you go the honest route like a Florida woman who turned in the $1,800 in cash she found?

You’ve got to admit it would be pretty tempting, but we like to think that most of us would do the right thing if faced with “free money.”

CBSMiami says a 46-year-old bank customer pulled up to a drive-through Chase ATM, and noticed there was a bunch of money stuck partway into the deposit slot. She didn’t see any other cars around, so she tried to shove the cash into the deposit slot. The machine wouldn’t take it, so she held onto the money and called the police.

Police are holding on to the money for now, until bank officials figure out which customer failed at their deposit. Officers thanked the woman for “her honesty and compassion, and for doing the right thing.”

Free money is a tempting thing, so kudos to you, honest lady! And remember, everyone — the “finders, keepers” rule won’t hold up in court.

S. Fla. Woman Turns in $1,800 Cash Found At Drive-Thru ATM [CBSMiami]


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  1. Coffee says:

    When my sister was about 18 and poor, she found $300 in the ATM at our local bank. She did the right thing and turned it in, but felt guilty about it for months.

    • Rose says:

      Regret, not guilt.

    • Costner says:

      I can do one better. When I was a Senior in high school I was up for a scholarship given by a local bank. If memory serves, the amount was $5000. Just so happens I was a customer of that bank, and one day I went to the ATM to get some cash – and instead of the traditional $20 I took out, the machine gave me $25 (this was back when ATMS gave a combination of $20s and $5s).

      I thought to myself “no big deal” and pocketed the extra money. I thought about going inside and returning it to one of the tellers, but I was in high school and free money was free money. So I kept quiet and went along my business.

      A while later they announced the scholarship winners, and I wasn’t one of them. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but part of me always wondered if that extra $5 was a test. Sort of like “if he brings it in it shows strong character and he will get the scholarship”. I know that is probably a bit of a stretch, but it crossed my mind more than a few times. Imaging losing $5,000 over $5. That is regret!

      If nothing else, I think it was Karma at work, so now if I’m in a similar situation I always try to make it right by returning what isn’t mine or ensuring I pay for what I have. I’m not perfect, but that $5 taught me a lesson that has stuck with me. In the end, maybe the lesson was more valuable than the money.

      • conscious says:

        Whatever gets you through the day.

      • Peri Duncan says:

        Yup. Karma.

      • pamelad says:

        What a great lesson and what a philosophical way to look at it. I have a similar, if much smaller, story. When I was in high school, I stole a $2.95 costume jewelry ring from a drug store. I just wanted to see if I could get away with it. Easy!

        I felt so guilty the next day that I had to sneak back into the store and stealthily return the ring to the display case. It was a lesson I’ve carried all my life since then. I didn’t get to keep the ring, but I know the dishonesty would have resulted in bad karma. Dishonesty often trumps honesty because of money, deception, and other forms of selfish greed.

        Honesty is the best policy.

      • Hibyeman says:


    • UberGeek says:

      She could’ve kept it and felt guilty for life. She got the good end of that deal.

    • Charmander says:

      She did the right thing, no need to feel guilty about it. I’d feel guilty if I DIDN’T turn it in.

    • Charmander says:

      She did the right thing, no need to feel guilty about it. I’d feel guilty if I DIDN’T turn it in.

  2. Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

    Police now say that they can’t return the money because of traces of drug paraphernalia found on the bills.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      You think you’re being funny, instead of being factual, unfortunately.

  3. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Everything at an ATM is recorded. If she’d kept it there’s very good chance they’d track her down.

    • Malik says:

      Actually, that may or may not be the case.

      I used to work at a bank in their security section. Part of my job was to organize the surveillance tapes that came in from the branchs and send out new ones.

      The branch video systems were not necessarily standardized (comes from buying out other banks and integrating their systems). Some were recording all the time, some only recorded when a transaction was underweigh

      • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

        If you had surveillance “tapes” then you could be dating yourself. In this case it was a newer Chase no-envelope cash deposit machine. Local cops have posted some nice high-res photos of suspects at drive up ATMS.

        • Lyn Torden says:

          Even the police and security people still refer to “surveillance tapes” when today it’s all just computer hard drives and special hardened versions of what are basically high definition web cams.

    • Costner says:

      My thoughts exactly. There is a much better chance of “doing the right thing” when you know you are being monitored. Kudos to her either way… but knowing I’m being watched would sway my thinking.

    • nightowl85 says:

      They can only track her down if she already put her card and info into the system. If she is wearing a hat and sunglasses it would be very difficult to id her just based on the video. I once returned 200 dollars extra that a distracted cashier gave me. I was very poor and in college but I didn’t even think about it when I walked outside and counted the money. I returned and told him about his mistake. While I was eating my ramen noodles for that week I kept thinking about all the meals I could have eaten with that money, but well, it was the right thing. A week after the incident, one of my uncles won a small lottery prize and as I had told him about what I did, he gave me some money and took me shopping because he said he was very proud of me. So I did get a reward after all.

      • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

        The deposit slot doesn’t open unless you have swiped your card, entered your PIN and selected Cash Deposit. Chase just has to read their log to see who was at the ATM before the OP.

  4. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    Eh, I dunno. Found money is found money. If the bank can’t find the shortage in an account, they’d likely claim it as theirs. I’d rather it line my pockets than Chase’s, but then, I’m pretty mercenary when it comes to something like that.

    • Worthy says:

      But chances are someone just forgot the money. So if this happened to you, I would hope they show the same kind of respect you have shown everyone else and steal your money.

    • Bugley says:

      That’s a huge “if”.

      Anyway, not that it matters, but your post makes me a little sad.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      I don’t think you understand the magnitude of the problem for the bank to just take the money. If the put money in the till they have to apply an account against which it will go. It’s not a deposit so they can’t do that. they can’t put t against sales because they didn’t sell anything. Besides, since banks often come up with abandoned accounts the state looks them over very closely for just this type of windfall gain by a bank. The state wants the dough to go the the state escheat fund for them to have and to hold. Actually it’s easier for them to just give it back to the finder if they can’t find the right account to apply it to.

    • bluline says:

      I’m wondering, what do most people feel is the threshold for turning in found money? I found a $20 bill on the sidewalk in my neighborhood a few weeks ago and didn’t think twice about keeping it. I was the only person in view at the time, so it’s not like there was anyone I could identify as having lost it. If it had been a $100 bill I would have done the same. But what if you find a paper bag full of cash? At what point do you decide that you should turn it in versus keeping it?

      • Crackpot says:

        When there are bloodstains on the bag and weird-looking guys are eyeing you from alleyways, just keep walking.

  5. JennQPublic says:

    If it were just randomly in the street, I would hang onto it and wait and see if it turned out to be the life savngs of a little old lady, or the nightly deposit for a Domino’s. Then I would decide where to go from there.

    Of course, in this case the finder was probably on camera, so I would just turn it in.

  6. chemmy says:

    Assuming she took it and kept for herself, I’m sure the bank would have her on camera and the police would track her down for theft…. And there’d be a completely different story here instead…

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      All the ATM will show is that she took money. If she performs her transaction, then takes her money, plus that stack that was there, it will just look like a normal transaction.

  7. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    There’s no question; I’d call the police and turn in the $1200 I found.

  8. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I’ve pulled up to few ATMS that read “Would you like another transaction?” Very tempting.

    • dolemite says:

      I’m always paranoid when I walk away from the ATM or gas pump because of that.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Same. I always wait after I get my receipt for the screen to say ‘Welcome to…’ or whatever the initial prompt is.

    • MaryK says:

      My ATM requires you to re-enter your PIN if you want another transaction! For that, I am grateful. (It is also the type of ATM that will “eat” your card if you leave it in the slot!)

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Try it. You won’t get anywhere because you have to re-enter the PIN for additional transactions.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        There is a bank near me that takes your card into it, not just a swipe, that makes you re-enter your info after each micro-transaction. It annoys me to no end because my card is STILL in the machine, so it’s not like I walked away without my card.

        • failurate says:

          They are trying to save people like me from people like me. I have walked away without my card.

          Sorry, ruining it for everyone.

          • Sad Sam says:

            My husband has done that probably 10 times, no exaggeration, and by the time he realizes the bank has destroyed the card b/c they only keep it for 24 hours. At present he is without an ATM card, I wonder where he left it . . .

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      One day a guy ahead of me at the ATM drove off without his card. I took it into the bank listed on the card; hope he got it back.

      • Yorick says:

        Recently, I drove up to an ATM with a card sticking out of it. It wasn’t even for that bank, so I called the number on the back to report it, and ask what they wanted me to do. Bank CSR said to destroy it and she was marking it lost.

    • some.nerd says:

      My absent-minded mother did that a year or two ago at her bank. Some teenagers were honking their horn and she got all flustered and drove off without her card, with that screen still on. The punks stole $400 and I’m pretty sure the local townie cops & credit union didn’t do diddly squat about it.

  9. RandomHookup says:

    Honesty…plus the ubiquitous video cameras.

  10. Bladerunner says:

    I stand by my $20 rule.

    If I randomly find

    • Bladerunner says:

      I did it again…stupid use of the less-than symbol, forgetting that the computer doesn’t know I used it in its mathematical sense rather than its HTML markup sense.

      I was just saying if I find less than 20 bucks, and I can’t easily find the owner, I keep it, while if I find more, it might be a mortgage payment, or a car payment, or rent, and I’d hate to do that to someone, so I’d turn it in, but I’d also demand a receipt because I believe most jurisdictions have an “after x number of days it goes to the finder” rule.

      • bluline says:

        No, what happens these days is that the cops keep the money for themselves. Several such incidents have been reported in recent months. Turn it in if you want, but don’t expect to get it back if no one claims it.

        • mac-phisto says:

          well, the key there is paperwork. i found a really nice guitar in the middle of the road a few years back – figure it must’ve fell out of the back of a van or off a bike or something. i went around to all the local bars that nite that did live shows, but no one was missing anything, so i dropped it off at the police station. i got an incident report # & a copy of the filing info, b/c u are right – after a year here, anything still not claimed is considered abandoned & sold at police auction UNLESS the rightful owner or the finder puts in a claim.

          i still have my suspicions that something not entirely legal went down – it was a really nice ibanez that was listing around $1500 on ebay at the time & miraculously the owner claimed it just days before the police would’ve considered it abandoned. more likely the police chiefs son started taking guitar lessons. oh well – still better than landing in processing for selling a ‘stolen’ guitar.

  11. scoosdad says:

    What ATM will dispense $1800 all at once? Usually there’s either there’s a daily limit on the account withdrawal, or the machine itself has a limit per transaction.

    At least that’s been my banking experience. YMMV.

  12. Cat says:

    [Sneaks up to ATM]

    “This is Mine! This is Mine! All this is mine! Cat needs a new pair of shoes!”

  13. Marlin says:

    Even if you did not want to return it; most (all?) banks have enough cameras to keep you honest.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Unless those cameras can see your VIN or license plate they’re not going to have a clue who you are unless you actually put your card in.

  14. Scuba Steve says:

    I would turn it in. Empathy is a hell of a drug.

    Just imagine how the guy or girl who forgot to take the withdrawal out feels, or will feel, when she calls the bank.

    It will be either horrible, or ecstatic. They will either curse their stupidity, or have their faith in humanity restored.

    • lvixen says:

      It wasn’t a withdrawl, it was a deposit. The money got stuck going into the machine, not forgotten.

  15. Atherton says:

    If it’s not mine, I don’t want it.

  16. Tim says:

    To support my plea of innocence, I’d like to cite the court’s decision in Finders v. Keepers

  17. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Last week I used a Chase ATM for a no-envelope cash deposit – for my first time. Put the loose bills into a slot, the door closes and it churns and counts the bills. Churn, churn, churn. The door then opened and 2 bills were returned as unreadable. After much more churning it accepted one of them on the 2nd attempt. You then get a confirmation screen with the amount you are depositing. Press Yes to proceed & get your receipt, or No to get your money back.

    It was my first time with a (no-envelope) cash deposit and I did find it time consuming, confusing, and frustrating. I believe there is a 40-50 bill maximum so I’m not sure how someone put in $1,800 unless it was $50’s.

    Didn’t the depositor get a receipt for their $1800 deposit? I am amazed at the number or receipts I find abandoned at ATMs.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I don’t understand this no envelope trend for ATM deposits. It just doesn’t seem secure. Then again I am an old fogey when it comes to things like this – give me my damn envelope!

  18. crispyduck13 says:

    In all seriousness, if that money had been sticking out of the ‘out’ slot instead of the deposit slot, would taking it still be considered theft? When someone forgets about the meter and gets their car towed it isn’t theft on the side of the tower, how is this so different? Does the ‘finders keepers’ rule really not hold up in court and if so, citation? If I find a wad of cash in the street and keep it is that illegal?

    Am I just an immoral asshole?

  19. Worthy says:

    The only thing I would have done differently is skip the police. I would have given it to the bank manager directly and had them sort it out. Because sooner or later that person is going to come back into the bank and let them know what happened. The Cops would just make it much more difficult if not steal the money in the name of some bullshit excuse.

  20. Erich says:

    Yes, I would do the right thing and return the entire $800

  21. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’d absolutely turn it in. If I lost that much money, I’d be eternally grateful if someone turned it in rather than keeping it and spending it on themselves. I know the person who lost the money should have been more careful, but we don’t know the circumstances. They might have been trying to bank with screaming kids and a barking dog in the car and could have been really distracted. It could have been their mortgage payment.

  22. AllanG54 says:

    I will put a check in an ATM but never cash. Even with the new ones that give you a receipt because if the money is miscounted it’s tough to prove it was yours as the machine will only give a receipt for the amount of money it takes in.

  23. Rick Sphinx says:

    Yes, call the police who can inform the bank. Also, you are on camera at the bank, if you take it, you could be charged with theft, you took money that is not yours. Besides, if no one claims it, it’s yours; honestly.

  24. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    I wouldn’t even consider keeping it.

  25. tbax929 says:

    I don’t have the ability to make cash deposits at all since I bank with USAA. I do, however, get to deposit my checks via camera phone pic which is very cool. Since it’s USAA, I find myself using ATMs a lot (they reimburse the fees). I’ve seen these new ATMs that can accept cash without an envelope, and it just seems like a bad idea. I’m far from a technophobe, but if something goes wrong, how to do you prove how much cash you tried to deposit?

    From what I understand, the machines that do take cash without the envelope don’t even give you an option to use an envelope. I think at that point I’d break down and go to a teller. Of course, some banks are charging for that now, so that’s not a viable option for everyone, either.

    Anyway, my answer to the question posed is, yes, I would turn it in. Not because of cameras or a fear of prosecution, but because if I were the one who lost it I’d want someone else to turn it in. Also, it’s just the right thing to do.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      I believe it counts the money and holds it in a separate stack until you confirm the amount counted. If there is a discrepancy and you click cancel it should return all the money in that stack.

      I’ve never received more or less than expected when making a withdrawl so I suspect they’ll be as accurate when making a deposit.

      I’ve used the non-envelope machine to make a deposit after banking hours as it posts the same day. Envelope deposits may not post until counted later. From the bank’s perspective the no-envelope machines cut down on fraud and float. I’m still leery when using them.

      • tbax929 says:

        I think ‘leery’ is a great word. I’d use such a machine if I had no choice, but I’d definitely be leery.

  26. Rick Sphinx says:

    I would also never deposit Cash at an ATM. I go to a teller for that so I know is counted. Just don’t want to get a call, “um, the evelope was empty” from the bank; go to a teller, and there is now question, a person counted in front of you. Deposit checks only at ATM’s.

  27. kataisa says:

    You should return it because the cameras have seen you stealing the money anyway.

  28. EllenRose says:

    Depends on the bank involved. I’d be more inclined to keep it if the ATM belonged to Wells Fargo. We all have our particular nemeses.

  29. yellowdog says:

    I once found a lone $20 in the slot of an ATM at the local Safeway. I turned it in to an employee in customer service, who was very surprised. I like to think that the person who didn’t grab the $20 noticed their loss, came back, and was pleased that someone had turned it in. Yes, that is what I like to imagine.

  30. Hungry Dog says:

    I will do what church has taught me, keep it for myself and enjoy the tax free money. All hail the Sentient Cloud!

  31. spartan says:

    I wonder if anyone will turn in the 3 billion that JP Morgan/Chase lost earlier this month.

  32. Pete the Geek says:

    If I lost some money, my wallet or other valuable item, would I want the finder to make an effort to return it to me? My answer is “yes” and for this reason I have always make an effort to return items I have found. I believe it is our duty as citizens to treat each other decently.

  33. mikedt says:

    another donation for the policemen’s ball.

  34. The_IT_Crone says:

    This actually happened to me. I turned it in, and the bank treated me like I stole it.

  35. dullard says:

    If there is any possible clue to ownership you must follow up. In this case there is clearly a clue to ownership as the bank could, most likely, determine who attempted to make this deposit.

    A few years ago my bank statement reflected a large deposit which I did not make. I called the bank. They tracked it down to another depositor with the same name. I called him to let him know so he could follow up. He told me he had been wondering what happened to his deposit.

    The thought of keeping the money never occurred to me. And it should not occur to any of you. It’s called honesty and integrity.

    • Galium says:

      Just curious, which honesty and integrity do you speak of. The honesty and integrity of every day citizens, or the honesty and integrity of politicians.

      • dullard says:

        “Just curious, which honesty and integrity do you speak of…”

        The honesty and integrity of the individual who finds money under these or similar circumstances. Politicians have nothing to do with it. Your question is off subject.

  36. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Of course I would turn it in. It’s not my money!

    If it’s not yours, you don’t touch/keep it. I learned this when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. The fact that it’s even a question is disgusting.

  37. Kate says:

    I had an atm give me twice what I punched in – about 200 dollars extra. I called the credit union that owned it and told them the ATM was messing up so they could shut it down and let them know that my transaction had been inaccurate. They thanked me and told me that they would have the money pulled back out of my checking account with another transaction, but it never happened.

  38. Sad Sam says:

    Maybe I am a pollyanna, but I think most people would return the money since its not like they found random money, this was part of a bank transaction that was incomplete.

  39. rockelscorcho says:

    i would return some of it, the rest just got lost in translation.

  40. Rocket80 says:

    I would report it to the bank, but not give them the money – “I found a significant amount of undeposited $ at the ATM, if anyone comes looking for it here is my name and number”

    As if I’d trust the bank employee (let alone cops, are you frickin’ kidding me?) to do the right thing.

  41. technoreaper says:

    Yeah, I’m definitely going to return it! Your face is on camera as soon as you pull up to the machine, and lord knows, your plate number. Someone reports the money missing and you’re going to be questioned and/or arrested. I wouldn’t return it to be nice, but for the sake of staying out of jail, period.

  42. dush says:

    Finders keepers seems to work for the law enforcement.

  43. dks64 says:

    I would return it in a heartbeat. There would be no question in my mind. The last time I went to the ATM, the lady didn’t hit the “Done” button, so I did it for her. Even if the cameras weren’t there, I would have done the same. I was raised to be honest and respectful. I would hope someone would do the same for me.

  44. lvixen says:

    The only time I “found” money was when I was getting money out of an ATM and when counting it, the bank had put a $50 in with the $20’s. $30 bucks extra works for me! Their mistake.

  45. Harry Greek says:

    The area is being recorded – of course I would turn it in. Otherwise, the heavy handed approach of the law and bank would have SWAT storming my home and breaking every bone in my body for taking money that did not belong to me.

    Also, the person who that money DID belong to, would sue me.

  46. axolotl says:

    You idiots! She probably just gave money back to a RICH PERSON! We all know they have more than enough already!

  47. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    “Free money is a tempting thing, so kudos to you, honest lady! And remember, everyone — the “finders, keepers” rule won’t hold up in court.”

    You have to prove I have the money though…..good luck with that…..

  48. RayanneGraff says:

    Nope, sorry. I’m a starving computer tech, I make shit for money, my dad is sick, and my car needs work. If someone was dumb enough to walk away from an ATM & leave their $1,800 in the slot, not my problem. Found money is found money.

  49. dru_zod says:

    This is not the same thing, but I once found a guy’s ATM card sticking out of the card slot. He’d apparently taken his money and forgotten that the card was still in the machine. I just took it inside and gave it to a teller to let them deal with it. If I’d found money sitting there instead of a card, I would most likely either call the police. The morons at the bank (Wells Fargo) would probably claim I stole it if I gave it to them, but they’d be sure to try to sign me up for identity theft protection and a new credit card as the police took me away.

  50. some.nerd says:

    I used to work as a server and frequently foundmyself depositing my cash in the ATM across from my apartment building. Thankfully it used sealed envelopes, and I never had a problem. Envelope-free cash deposits still skeeve me out, though, for reasons like OP’s.

  51. DGC says:

    I found $100 in a self check-out at a Meijer store. I turned it over to the cashier. I have no idea if they ever found the person who made the withdrawal. It was over 5 years ago, and I still wonder if I should have brought it to customer service or had security called instead.

  52. oldwiz65 says:

    I would have done the same; it was the ethical thing to do.