On the Road

What To Do When You Find a Bag of Money

Here at Road Junky we often spend hours at a time dreaming what would happen if we found a bag full of cold, hard cash. But what happens if you really find a bag of money?

What would happen if we found a bag full of cold, hard cash? Like Snake Plissken, we’d disappear. Hit the road for a while, hiding our cash in the gasoline tanks of our motorcycles.

But what happens if you find a bag of money?

Well, it turns out there are some big problems if this really happens. Chances are the owners and the authorities want it back. If the cash came from a heist, the notes might be traceable through their consecutive serial numbers or contain UV-ink markings. Worse, they might be counterfeit or belong to someone really f*in mean.

Luckily, in 2010 we have the power of internet and social media. Once again, the oracle provides us with the know-how on how to handle the situation, free of charge! So with permission of the author we’d like to share some (wise?) advice with our readers. And, keep in mind what they say about free advice.

l_one on reddit.com writes on this thread (editor’s note: some minor edits):

Best-practices protocol for finding this scale of cash (IE: more than $1000, less than $20,000) is the following.

Check for marks – handle the bills with gloves on until after checking – there are hard-to-remove marking dyes that will stay with you for a while and only show on UV – some marks will be stamps that are visible, many casinos do this. Check with a broad spectrum UV light and a currency check pen as well on any bills $20 or higher. Check for sequential serial numbers on the same denomination bills.

If there are serial number issues you can deal with this (slowly) by using them to get change for a large bill on a small purchase at a location that does not have security cameras on a purchase that does not need ID. Locally owned stores (privately owned, non-franchise but NOT in the area you live in) are usually best. Don’t dress in a memorable way, don’t buy something uncommon. Be forgettable. Do this at a busy time when the cashier has to deal with many customers in a row.

Keep the money safe, if you ALREADY HAVE a safe deposit box at a bank AND you go to it regularly you can use that, but don’t get one around the same time you found the cash and don’t go to the one you already have at that time if you haven’t visited it for a long time, hide it somewhere instead – somewhere you can get to and not seem odd doing so.

Don’t deposit any of it in any bank account for a minimum of 2 months, but you can spend it in small chunks as carry cash without waiting. Best way is to save more of your legitimate paycheck and appear to be living more frugally while making most of your purchases with cash.

If you do need to deposit it in a bank account, after a waiting period begin to deposit it in increments, small ones. Time it around things that give you a reason for doing so if you have seldom made cash deposits before (some people only deposit paychecks and then spend with debit cards). Have a yard sale, post ads for it in the newspaper and save a clipping of it. After the yard sale you can safely deposit a larger sum – say up to $2000 is not unreasonable. Do not deposit exactly $2000 though, it should be some odd randomly generated amount like $2054.08 for instance. It should be largely in coins, 1s, 5s, 10s and some 20s for this specific example, acquire the needed smaller bills before hand. If you’re really paranoid, don’t make the number up except for the first digit (the 2 in 2 thousand) – use a random number generator for the rest. Humans are bad at true-random generation and analysis can detect it. We’re being really paranoid now, but what the hell, it only costs you a few minutes for that part. You can also list and sell various items on craigslist for pickup with cash only and not list a specific price, then add some of the found-cash to what you made in the sale to take to the bank.