Would you return lost money or valuables you found? These people did

Three New York roommates have become media darlings after returning $40,000 they found in a couch they had purchased at a Salvation Army store. They join a number of honest folks who have found and then returned money or valuables back to their original owner.

Finders keepers? Not for this group. And honesty is not always its only reward

From left, Lara Russo, Cally Guasti and Reese Werkhoven sit on a couch in their apartment in New Paltz, N.Y., on May 15. The roommates had purchased the couch at a Salvation Army store and found $40,800 stashed inside. After finding a deposit slip, they returned the money to the 91-year-old upstate New York widow who had hidden it there. (Mike Groll/Associated Press)

1. $40K stuffed in a couch from the Sally Ann

Three New York roommates became media darlings this week after returning $40,000 they found in a couch they purchased at a Salvation Army store. They returned the money to a 91-year-old upstate New York widow who had hidden it there. 

The roommates join a number of honest folks who have found and then returned money or valuables back to their original owner.

2. Homeless woman finds $10K in a purse

In 2012, a homeless Calgary woman who had been living at the downtown YWCA found a purse that had been left inside. She said when she looked inside the purse for a phone number she discovered over $10,000 in cash.

The woman took the purse to her case worker who called the police to return it. The owners of the purse, a couple from Edmonton, gave her a reward and a trust fund was set up on her behalf. She was able to move from a homeless shelter into an apartment thanks to donations.

3. Rabbi returns $98,000 in desk

Last September, Connecticut rabbi and high school teacher Noah Muroff  purchased a used office desk for $150 on Craigslist. Two months later, as he was dismantling the desk to get it through his doorway, he discovered a bag containing $98,000 in cash. He immediately returned the cash to the owner, who said the money was part of an inheritance she received and happened to have misplaced, reported. Although Muroff declined a reward, the original owner of the desk did refund the $150 he had spent to purchase it.

4. Backpack bonanza

Glen James turned in a backpack containing $2,400 in cash and almost $40,000 in traveller's cheques. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)
A Boston homeless man found a backpack containing $2,400 in cash and almost $40,000 in traveller's cheques at a mall last September. Glen James flagged down a police officer after discovering the backpack, which had been left behind by a student visitor from China, the Boston Globe reported. A trust fund was later set up for James, which raised more than $150,000.

5. Hotel room cash stash

Ten-year-old Missouri resident Tyler Schaefer was rummaging through drawers at a hotel last May when he came across neatly stacked bills, still in money wrappers, totalling $10,000. Tyler and his father handed the money over to two off-duty police officers working security at the hotel. So far, no one has come forward to claim the money, but a state law prevents Schaefer from collecting (after four years it would go to the state treasurer.) However, the state treasurer recently wrote to the Kansas City chief of police saying that he will “ensure the boy and his father are able to claim the money.”

6. Dropped diamonds worth $200K

Last December, an Israeli diamond dealer dropped a bag containing $200,000 worth of diamonds on a road next to the Israel Diamond Exchange, the International Business Times reported. An area resident found the bag and turned it in at the exchange, which returned it to the owner. “I wasn't tempted for a moment to take it,” said the man who found the bag. “I was brought up to believe that we don't touch anything that isn't ours.”

7. $100K left in restaurant washroom

When a 75-year-old Tennessee woman discovered nearly $100,000 in a tapestry bag hanging on a hook on one of the stall doors of a local restaurant in 2008, her first thought was, "I have been having real bad teeth problems … 'I'll get my teeth fixed.'"

Instead, Billie Watts looked inside for any identification. All she found was a picture of two women and a child, she told USA Today. Not sure she could trust leaving the bag of cash with someone at the restaurant, she took the bag home. She called the restaurant, which later put her in touch with the owner of the bag.

When she met the woman who owned the bag, the woman said the picture in the bag was of her daughter and grandchild who had both passed away. The money was from the sale of the woman's home and belongings.
Debra Young, right, gave Paul Marshall, left, a ring for his 40th birthday. He was devastated when he lost it at work. It was on its way back to him six months later.

8. Good turn of the screws

Not all good deed returns involve money. Paul Marshall of Thunder Bay, Ont., lost a ring given to him by his girlfriend while he was working at one of the machines at a plant that manufactures specialty screws earlier this year.

About six months later, two construction workers in York, Maine, while working in an attic, discovered the ring in a box of screws. The workers and their boss went to the local lumber yard to find out the source of the screws. Eventually they made contact with the Thunder Bay plant and the ring was sent back by mail.

9. Thinking inside the box

A California woman hid her $23,000 diamond ring in an old wooden watch box to keep it safe from her twins while she was going to give birth to another child. When she returned she learned her husband had sold the box at a yard sale for $10, not realizing the ring was inside.

A woman who purchased the box gave it to her daughter and son-in-law. When that couple were looking for a missing set of keys, they checked the box. Instead of the keys, they found the ring. The missing ring had sparked media attention, and soon the couple realized they had the ring that was generating all the headlines. They were able to contact the owner and return it.

With files from The Associated Press