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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Ethics gut check: Possible crime money found, do you keep it or turn it in?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26783points) September 3rd, 2011

Imagine yourself hiking, mountain biking, walking the dog, etc, in a rugged outdoor area. In front of you, what appears to be litter is blowing across the trail. When you get closer, you see they are $100 dollar bills. You start to gather them together and they seem to be originating somewhere in the brush. As you get closer to where it seem to be coming from, you see something on the ground. When you get there, you find the corpse of a man nicely dressed. By the decay he has been there a long time and by the blood stained shirt, he took a couple to the chest and bled out. He has a pistol clutched in one hand and a satchel lying near by. There are a few bundle of hundreds on the ground near the satchel, some of which are scattering in the wind, plus other that are still in the satchel. If you bothered to look, you will see the man carries nothing, no wallet, or anything to I.D. him. Inside the satchel there are about 18 to 22 bundles of hundreds in $5,000 dollar lots. No one seems to know he was there. What are you going to do, bring back a ranger, pocket the money, or leave it as you found it? What if you had recently lost your income, or knew you were going to be soon, would that affect your decision? Would you compromise and take some of the money before contacting a ranger? What would you do, if you figured you were not going to get into trouble, would you still do it that way you would have originally?

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36 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

No, I would do the same thing the man who found $150,000 dollars in a duffel bag in his garden. It would be turned into the police in the hopes no one would claim it and I would get it back.

Hibernate's avatar

@YARNLADY one thing though. There’s no possibility for “nobody” to claim them. After they identify the victim they check what’s up with the money. If they are the victims then those money go to the closer family member. If he has no family/relatives they use some money to bury him and the rest are kept as evidence.

Anyway I’d call the police and give them the money. No matter what others might say those money could be the last savings a family has. I can manage without them.

ragingloli's avatar

Turn it in. Whoever it is who buried it there might come back to get it. Not good if you started spending it. For your survival, that is.
Besides, you have a legal entitlement to 3% of the nominal value as finder’s reward in Germany (best country in the world, btw). That is 4500 in this case (the 150000$ case).

Prosb's avatar

I would report it to the proper authorities. I don’t need the ill gotten gains of someone else.
In your hypothetical situation where I’m in a VERY bad situation financially, I could honestly see myself wavering enough to pocket the non-bloodstained bills that are blowing away in the wind, after checking to see if they are counterfeit. They are likely just going to end up part of a bird or squirrel’s nest, so I would be able to convince myself that it’s not quite as bad.
If I were to find the bag/body without the bills blowing away, I would turn every cent in, in any situation.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@YARNLADY I would do the same thing the man who found $150,000 dollars in a duffel bag in his garden. A bold move, however, the situation is not quite the same. There is a man with a gun to factor.

@Hibernate There’s no possibility for “nobody” to claim them. After they identify the victim they check what’s up with the money. If they are the victims then those money go to the closer family member. If he has no family/relatives they use some money to bury him and the rest are kept as evidence. That is an interesting coarse of thinking. Have you reached further? You have a man with a gun in his hand; you have no ideal if it was for defense or offense. He could be the victim, trying to protect his money, and gotten away but not until he was shot. He could have robbed someone else laying somewhere else out there in the brush. He could have stolen it from somewhere else, gotten shot, and made it out there before he died. He could have been the middleman in a dope deal and it went South. Any of those occurrences could keep you from seeing any of that cash. Why was he not missed, or no one found him? If he was the intermediary, or a currier for a dealer, how would it be traced to you if you spent it?

augustlan's avatar

I’d call the police, report it (giving them my contact info), and get the hell out of Dodge. My initial thought was that I’d physically take the money to the police and turn it in, but if there’s a guy with a gun out there, I’m not touching it. At all.

FutureMemory's avatar

I would turn right around and go home, without touching the corpse or the money. He’s already dead, so calling the police isn’t going to help him. Turn around, and go home. No phone calls.

What money, what corpse? I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

Cruiser's avatar

This happened to me. I found $10,000….all $100’s in the drop ceiling of an abandoned office I was remodeling. I kept the money sat on it for 6 mo’s and then finally spent about $700.00 of it and then…....I noticed many of the serial numbers matched each other! Holy phony baloney Batman!!!! It was fake….counterfeit!! I told a friend who asked if he could have it and like a complete moron I gave it to him. 2 years later the US Marshal showed up at my front door wanting to know what I knew about the cash. I was in deep shit. Turned out it was fake bills from Iran attempted to be laundered through an Iranian Mob who ran a vending machine biz. HS!!

ucme's avatar

No Country For Old Men….....I walk away, I like living see.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I would turn it in.

Brian1946's avatar

I’d think that one of the following scenarios could be likely:

Whoever shot him didn’t kill him for the money since it was left behind. I’d check the entry wounds for stippling. If I saw stippling, I’d figure he was shot by someone who had a personal issue with him and might not pose a threat to me, and if I didn’t see anyone else nearby, I’d feel relatively safe and try calling 911 from there. If I couldn’t get through, I’d go home and call it in.

If I didn’t see any stippling, I’d consider the possibility that he was killed by a sniper, which would introduce the possibility of a random killer who just might have me in their sights too. Given that, I’d go prone and try 911. If I couldn’t get through, I’d do a 360º visual sweep to check for any reflected light in the area. If I didn’t see any reflected light, I’d cautiously get the hell out of there. If did see any reflected light, then the story would just get too tediously verbose from this point on.

Whoever shot him only had time to take some of the money and then took off. In that case, I’d take a photo of the scene, go home, and call it in.

I probably wouldn’t give it that much thought if it really happened though. I’d probably go, “Eeew, rotting corpse!” and try calling 911 before I left.

In any of the above scenarios, I’m not touching the money or anything else in the the crime scene,

creative1's avatar

Call 911 and report it, if my cell didn’t get reception I would then go to the ranger and report it and have them call. There is no question here, I would though gather the money so no more could blow away and take it to the ranger station so no one else happened on the money and took it before the authorities got there. A dead body was once an alive person and they might have family whom needs to be notified regardless if the death was a result of illegal activity. Either way with or with out a body it should be reported otherwise you are doing something illegal by not reporting it.

CWOTUS's avatar

Leave everything alone and call the police from home later on, giving details and my contact information. It’s a crime scene, after all, and one of the simple rules that I live by is: Clean hands lead a happy life. So far, so good. If there’s a reward or moiety later on, then so much the better, but for now I let the police deal with the crime scene and murder / robbery investigation.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Cruiser HS is right! Damn man…like right out of the movies!!!

digitalimpression's avatar

Before the age of about 31 I would have turned the money in. Nowadays I’d take it and call it a stroke of good luck. Obviously something shady went down for this guy to be shot and have a gun anyway. And unless the bills had a note around them that said New York City orphanage or something.. I’m cool with having some extra cash.

FutureMemory's avatar

@digitalimpression What happened when you were 31?

marinelife's avatar

You turn it in, because you may not know where it came from, but you know it isn’t yours.

HungryGuy's avatar

Two different scenarios…

Dead guy in woods bleeding money: Walk away. I didn’t find it on my property to begin with, and I don’t want to get implicated in murder or worse.

Big bag of money buried in my back yard: Keep it. When I bought that house, I rightfully bought everything that was on the property at the time (trees, bushes, shrubs, old barn in back, junk car in old barn in back, row of oak trees out back, stone wall past that row of oak trees out back, big pile of garbage behind the stone wall out past that row of oak trees out back, big bag of money buried in the back yard, rotting old boat dock on the lake, rotting old boat tied to rotting old boat dock on the lake, etc., etc., etc.). Everything on the land became my rightful personal property at the time of the closing. So blow that out your poop-hole, Puritans!

CWOTUS's avatar

What if you bought a Superfund site, @HungryGuy, and no one told you about that, either?

fluthering's avatar

I’d take a look around, make sure nobody was watching and a pocket a few of the hundred dollars bills. Not like a dead man will have much to spend it on anyways. I’d then contact the police or park rangers and let them know the body’s location and current situation. They could take care of the rest.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’d leave it and call the police anonymously. I wouldn’t want whoever the dead person is connected with to know I the body once it’s known there was cash involved, wouldn’t want them to come looking for me to see if I have any souvenirs.

DrBill's avatar

report the crime, leave the money there, (it might be evidence) if it is from a crime, no one is going to claim it, and you will get it back. Anyone who was going to claim that amount is going to have to justify why there was so much cash.

Kardamom's avatar

If I saw the money before I saw the body, I’d probably pick some of it up. But when I saw the body, I would scream and then I would try to contact the rangers and/or the police and I would give them the money that I found. Clearly the money is not just lost (like if it had fallen out of someone’s pocket and you had no way to find the owner). So I could not justify keeping the money.

I wouldn’t even touch the body or try to check the dead man’s ID. Just wouldn’t happen. I’d scream and then go for help.

Coloma's avatar

I’d report it, then, dash home and flip the 8000 volt electric fence on. haha

incendiary_dan's avatar

Whatever the case, I’ll end up getting someone eventually. Whether or not I keep the money depends on who it was stolen from. If it’s a bank or something, I’ll keep it. If it’s the mom and pop business that’s been there for 40 years and it’s their life savings, I’ll give it back.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Cruiser Dude, you didn’t inspect the money?!? Make sure the ink didn’t smudge or wash off, the watermark was there, or the security thread? That would have been the first things I would have looked for, before seeing if the numbers match or it had dye pack residue on it. 8-o

@EVERYONE ELSE How is anyone to know where the money came from to figure if you turned it in, you would get it back some point in the future? How do you figure some shady figures will come looking for you, if you pocketed it some or all of the money? If they knew where the money was, they would have searched and found it already. If the money was ripped off from a mom and pop business, you won’t be entitled to any of the cash. I wonder how those who are worried that whomever shot the man will shoot them, when you don’t know if he was shot in that area or traveled into that area before he died. Why would the people that shot him still be in the area after all that time and never found him or the money? Just seems like many people have loose ends they haven’t considered.

Hibernate's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central well thing is I do not want to spent the money. I prefer giving them to others even if they can;t really prove it’s their money.

Cruiser's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I was 25 yrs old dirt poor and knew nothing about real bills vs fakies. Long story dude….long f’d up story.

Coloma's avatar


A colorful story, part of these zany life happenings. haha

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma Looking back it is definitely a wild tale but at the time I was terrified as the US Marshalls wanted to toss my ass in jail sooooo bad. The worst part was finding out my very best friend ratted me out….that was a total head trip to suddenly realize nothing is sacred in this world. :(

mrrich724's avatar

I could see how someone would want to keep it. You turn it in to the police and it may eventually be destroyed or confiscated and locked away forever.

You keep it and you’ve just gotten ahead, without doing anything bad . . . it’s not like you willed the dead guy in the bush so you could get money.

Ron_C's avatar

I believe that I would gather up the money and turn it in to the local police. I don’t think that I would give it to our local rangers (I don’t trust them). In Pennsylvania, the forest rangers are allowed to search your car and even your refrigerator without a warrant. They are the only police agency permitted to do such things so they are inherently untrustworthy. I would let the police call the rangers and hope the money wasn’t reported stolen or missing.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Ron_C In Pennsylvania, the forest rangers are allowed to search your car and even your refrigerator without a warrant. How does doing that make them less trustworthy to you? You figure they will swipe something or plant it?

Ron_C's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “ou figure they will swipe something or plant it?” of course, their search and seizure power is virtually unlimited. I have seen the abuse they heap on our local farmers.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Ron_C I guess with broad unchecked power like that, they could run quite an extortion racket.

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