Erica Clark had just finished lunch with her parents at a McDonald’s in Moorhead when something stopped her in her snowy tracks Tuesday — a thick bank envelope. It was sealed.
She opened it and found 28 new $100 bills.
“Honestly, at first I thought they were fake,” said the 19-year-old Minnesota State University Moorhead student.
There also was a receipt from the Wells Fargo Bank branch down the street.
She immediately took the money to police headquarters.
Police, working with the bank, found the anxious man who lost his money. He had withdrawn the cash to buy a pickup, and when he realized he no longer had his cash, went back to the bank, frantically looking for it, police said.
He “feared that it would never be returned to him,” said Police Lt. Tory Jacobson. Police have not disclosed the identity of the man, who is from Sabin, Minn.
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 said of herself and her older brother.
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 had enough for 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.