I found £120,000 in unmarked bills – I handed them into cops despite being in debt but reward left me furious

A MAN who found £120,000 in unmarked bills was left stunned with the reward after handing in the cash to cops despite being in debt.

Eli Estrada stumbled upon the hefty $140,000 (£120,000) sum in the middle of Gridley Road in Cerritos, California, on the way to work.


The huge amount of cash fell off a Brinks Van on Gridley Road, CaliforniaCredit: Wikipedia
But Eli Estrada gave the cash back and received a measly reward


But Eli Estrada gave the cash back and received a measly rewardCredit: Getty

The unmarked $20 bills were bundled into wads of $20,000 and were left in the street in a bag.

But despite having mounting debt after opening a landscaping and artificial-grass business, he said he knew turning it over to the cops was the right thing to do.

Authorities said the money was lost by Brinks armoured truck drivers.

The cash was accidentally left on the bumper of one such truck that picked up the unmarked bills.

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The thousands were bound for ATMS across the city. but the bag later fell off the bumper as the truck rounded a corner.

Now 55-year-old Estrada admits that some days “I think I was nuts.

“But I know in my gut that to keep that money would be wrong.

“That’s just your first reaction, but it’s not yours and you feel nervous and you feel like you did something wrong, even though you didn’t.”

There was a time in his youth, when he was in trouble, nearly homeless and extremely desperate, when he would have kept the cash, he admitted.

Being with the cash was “a weird feeling,” Estrada said. “It’s not like you would expect it, it’s surreal.”

After finding the bag, he drove to a landscaping job where his clients, by chance, worked for the police.

Estrada told them he wanted to turn the money in, and they called the Long Beach Police Department.

Estrada said he was content with his decision, though admitted “it was hard to give up” the cash back in 2008.

Long Beach police spokeswoman Dina Zapalski said she had never heard of someone turning in so much cash.

Zapalski told the Los Angeles Times: “I’ve had people come to me with purses and wallets with cash in it and they’ll turn it in.

“But not like this.”

Zapalski said cops were surprised that Estrada didn’t ask for a reward – instead, he went right back to work.

Estrada’s mother, Rosa Estrada, said her son had always been nervous about doing something unethical or illegal.

This time was no different even though “he needs the money,” she said.

“He was very nervous; he said he wouldn’t be able to sleep” if he didn’t turn it in, she said.

Despite his pure honesty and handing back over £100k, Brinks later gave Estrada just $2,000 for turning in the money.

His mother smiled and said, “They should have given him 10%.”

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It comes after a woman who found a purse bulging with cash very nearly spent it, only to net an even bigger reward.

Meanwhile, a builder uncovered a whopping £150,000 hidden in a mysterious locked box behind a wall – but it turned into a nightmare.

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