Whose money is it?

Recently I was faced with a challenge most people might face at least 1 or 2 in their life time. While in most cases the result is expected in this case it couldn’t follow the traditional approach for obvious reasons.

So what am I talking about? I was on my way to the bank a few weeks back and I found 1000/- Rs on the ground. Usually if it was a few 10’s of rupees I would have ignored it and moved on but considering that it was a significantly large amount I had to stop and pick it up? Some poor guy has probably just withdrawn the amount and lost it almost immediately. As soon as I picked it up I started facing my challenge? What to do with it?

Naturally who ever lost it might come back looking for it but how do I identify him? If he doesn’t come back what do I do?

As I stood there a guy walked up to me and claimed the money to be his, obviously my first instinct was to give it to him and get it over with but then realized that he probably saw me pick it up. So my first filter was to ask him the amount I had in my hand, he got it wrong. Naturally it is possible not to get the exact amount since some of it could be blown away in the wind but his amount should have been higher than I had in my hand. Next he got the condition of the notes wrong. Almost all the notes were used notes not crisp new notes. And lastly he got the denominations wrong.

I dismissed him and he left without a struggle that pretty much confirmed it for me. But I still am left with the money in my hand. I asked around and everybody said leave the money with them but that was also not acceptable since I couldn’t vouch for any of the people I talked to. I could go the police and hand it over but the person who lost it probably wouldn’t go to the police since the money wasn’t stolen and it was more hassle than the money was worth. So I left my card with different stores in the area.

A few days later I got a call for the money after asking the same questions the answers were valid. I figured I should test him out a bit more by asking him to come to my office and then dropping out at the last minute. He persisted and that left me thinking he must be the real owner. So I asked him to come over and when I met him I was convinced he was the guy mainly because he fit the profile of someone who would carry his money in a rolled bunch and was a working class guy. Someone with money would probably have assumed it lost and moved on. Can I say I found the right owner 100 % No, but I am 90% confident that I found the right guy.

Do you think I did the right thing?

This challenge posed some interesting questions on how we identify ownership on the internet which I will explore in my next blog.