Taxi driver returns £16,000 left on the back seat

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taxi sign in rainy day

A taxi driver in China dropped a young couple off at a car dealership, and drove away with £16,000 in cash on the back seat. When he realised what had happened, he handed the money in at work, and the company tracked the couple down. They offered him almost £1,000 as a reward - the equivalent of more than two-months' wages, but he turned it down saying he didn't want to profit from their misfortune.

It's an impressive level of honesty, but he's not the first to have found and returned a fortune.

The Daily Mail reported that the driver, Zhao Lei, found 170,000 yuan in a paper bag after dropping the couple off at the dealership in Harbin, in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang. After the couple were reunited with the money - which they intended to spend on a new car - he refused a reward and said: "Anyone who lost such a big amount of money will go crazy. I won't take advantage of that."

He's not the first to have found and returned a fortune.

In September last year a man repairing trains for the Madrid underground found a cheque for $2 million in a wallet stuffed between two doors. However, rather than trying to cash it in, he handed it to his manager, who passed it to the police.

That same month, Glen James, a homeless man in Boston, flagged down a police car. He handed over a backpack containing $2,400 in cash and $40,000 in traveller's cheques, which he had found at the shopping mall. The backpack was returned to its owner, and the Boston police honoured the man with a special citation. Ethan Whittington of Virginia read about the story and decided to set up a fund for James on crowdfunding site gofundme.com. In two days it raised $110,000.

Back in 2011, a man in Utah found an astonishing $45,000 lying around his new home. Josh Ferrin bought the property and was looking round when he stated to come across small stashes of money. He collected it all together and discovered it came to $45,000. He discovered that the former owner was a father of six who had a habit of hiding money around the house. The property had been sold after his death without any of the family finding the cash. Ferrin returned it to his children.

And three years earlier, 75-year old Billie Watts returned an even bigger haul. She found a bag containing $97,000 in the toilets of a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Tennessee - along with two photographs. She took the money home, but called the restaurant, told them she had found something, and left her number. After quarter of an hour she received a call from the owner, who described the photographs. She returned to the restaurant and handed the money over in the car park - where it emerged that it was the proceeds of a woman's house sale and she was on her way to start a new life in Florida.

Of course, in the UK if you find a fortune and choose to keep it, you'll be breaking the law, and can be charged with theft by finding. The question is whether most people would consider this if they found a fortune - or whether they would succumb to the temptation to keep the lot.

What do you think? What would you do?