Erica Clark who just sat down for lunch with her parents in McDonald’s on 8th street in Moorhead ended up finding $2,800 in cash in a sealed bank envelope. But she did do the right thing and found and returned the money to it’s rightful owner.
Once Erica Clark finished her lunch she and her parents parted separately, the Minnesota State University Moorhead student out one exit and on a path toward her car. But something stopped Clark in her snowy tracks Tuesday — a thick bank envelope. It was sealed.
She opened it and found 28 new $100 bills and a receipt from the Wells Fargo Bank branch down the street.
“Honestly, at first, I thought they were fake,” she said.
Clark said she never thought once, let alone twice, about keeping the cash.
“My parents raised us very well to respect others and always be honest,” Clark, 19, said of herself and her older brother.
She immediately brought the money to police headquarters.
Police Lt. Tory Jacobson praised Clark for displaying “commendable character” and having “recognized the heavy burden [someone] must be carrying upon learning that they had lost such a substantial amount of money.”
Police collaborated with the bank and were led to the anxious man who lost his money. He had revisited the bank during his window of worry to look around for the missing money, police said.
The man “indicated that he had been frantic upon discovering he had lost his cash and feared that it would never be returned to him,” Jacobson said.
He said the man had withdrawn the money with the intention of buying a pickup truck. Police have not disclosed the identity of the man, who is from Sabin, Minn.
Clark said she didn’t expect a reward for what she did, but when she met the man Wednesday morning he gave her one just the same. Clark isn’t saying how much the reward was or disclosing the grateful man’s identity. She said that they chatted and figured out he was leaving the McDonald’s at just about the time she was arriving.
Had Clark turned around and spent all the money on Big Macs, she would have had enough to buy 657 of the classic burgers, tax included, and still have to pick something off the dollar menu.
Asked what the law says about finding something of value, Police Sgt. Robb Matheson said it’s not a case of finders, keepers: Clark was legally bound to turn in the money.
“You are obligated to turn it in,” he said. Keeping it would be a felony.
If not claimed, “then you can say, ‘I’d like it back,’ ” Matheson added.
Clark, who is studying to be a grade-school teacher, revealed she heard from several people — “kids and stuff” — who said “I was crazy for not keeping it.”
Jacobson said “the Moorhead Police Department would like to thank Erica Clark for her commendable character and honesty.”
Just like she was raised.