Recently here in my hometown of Cleveland there was an incident where 3 bags containing in total $640,000 in US currency fell out of an armored delivery truck in the middle of downtown. It took the armored truck a couple of blocks to retrace their route, and when they went back the bags of money were gone.
There was no theft. The bags fell out of the truck. The company offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the return of the money.
The fellow who took the bags was seen by an eyewitness, and several days later he took the money in to the FBI. The FBI said, “You don’t get the reward; it took you too long to bring it in.”
I refer you to various editions of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the specifics.
My questions are, did the fellow have a legal obligation to return the money? If he kept it for himself, what criminal laws would he have been breaking? If the bank or the armored car company, or its insurance company, sued him in civil court to recover the money, would he have an obligation to return it? Would he have to hide the money in a bus station locker for 20 years? I am a lawyer, but I don’t know the answers to these questions, other than that, like Al Capone, the IRS would say that he’d be obligated to report the $640,000 as “other income” on his 2001 income tax return.
I guess my questions boil down to is it really finders keepers losers weepers?