Ethics

If You Found $100,000, What Would You Do?

Former Staff Writer
2 min read

It’s a tale as old as time. But the rags-to-riches story of how one Australian janitor pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars shows the enduring -- though not always self-evident -- value of being honest.

While cleaning a bathroom in August 2011, Chamindu Amarsinghe stumbled upon a trash can teeming with dollar bills. “There was too much to count,” he told Australia’s Herald Sun. “I thought someone was playing a prank on me.”

Rather than pocketing the cash, however, Amarsinghe thought better of it. He promptly alerted his supervisor, whereupon police and plumbers ultimately uncovered 100,000 Australian dollars (roughly $94,000 U.S.) from the public restroom -- some of it in sewage pipes.

Related: Lesson in Integrity: 72-Year-Old Retired Teacher Keeps a Decades-Long Promise to Students

After relinquishing his findings to authorities almost three years ago, Amarsinghe received the phone call of a lifetime yesterday. Because of his honest response, and because authorities never determined who the money belonged to, a local magistrate ruled that he should keep a lion’s share of the fortune -- $81,597 to be exact. The remaining $19,500 will go to the state.

Being honest pays, a local magistrate said in his decision. And the detective in charge of the case agreed. “All the guys in the office felt the same. He’s a struggling student who straight-up didn’t even think of pocketing it.”

Precisely because he didn’t steal, Amarsinghe made out like a bandit. But what would you have done?

 

Related: Half-Witted or Heroic? Man Fights Off Shark, Sutures His Own Wounds, Then Throws Back a Beer

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