When Adriana Allen pulled up to the drive-through ATM machine in Boynton Beach, Fla., and saw $1,800 in cash sitting there, she thought it could have been a scene from a hidden-camera reality show.
"It was so surprising. [The money] was just hanging by a thread. It wasn't even in an envelope," Allen said about her discovery on Sunday. "I was looking around and thinking, 'Is this real or not?'"
With the bank closed and no car in sight, what would you do: take the money and drive off into the sunset? Or listen to the better half of your conscience and try to find the rightful owner?
Allen, a 46-year-old crossing guard from Boca Raton, Fla., took the honest route, handing over the money to police. The bank has now identified the owner and a spokesperson at JPMorgan Chase says they hope to return the lost funds as soon as possible.
"I come from a Cuban family with very strong beliefs. Whatever you don't earn, is not yours. You give it back," Allen said, explaining how she never considered taking the money. "Times are very hard and probably that money is for a family that needs to pay their mortgage and to cover grocery bills."
Allen tried to stuff the stack of 18 $100 bills into the deposit slot at the local Chase branch, but when the ATM wouldn't accept it, she completed her transaction and called the police.
A police officer took possession of the cash and is holding it as evidence until the bank can locate its owner. Authorities believe someone was likely trying to deposit money and drove off without completing the transaction.
"She was our hero," Boynton Beach Police Department's Public Information Officer Stephanie Slater said. "It was kind of refreshing. …I can tell that this is the type of person that she is and this is how she lives her life."
"I'm a believer in karma and karma is going to come back to this person in a very large way," Slater added. "We are very thankful that she did what we she did."
Allen brushed off the praise, saying anyone would have done the same, and that she was living by example for her seven-year-old son.
"As a mom, I try to do my best. As a person, I try to live my life through example," she said. "Hopefully my son will get that. That's the way he's been brought up…. The truth is always going to get you ahead."
There's no word if Allen will receive a reward for her honesty from the bank or owner, but the Police Department plans to honor Allen for her efforts with a Civilian Commendation award at their quarterly awards ceremony in June.
"I don't expect anything," Allen said when asked about a reward. "As long as I feel good about myself, everything else is an extra."