Teenager Found $135K Next To An ATM — Instead Of Walking Away With It He Called Police

Seldom do people find cash laying around without an owner, and even if they do it is usually not in very large amounts.

However, Jose Nuñez Romaniz from Albuquerque, New Mexico, found a very large amount of forgotten cash—$135,000 to be exact—when he was visiting an ATM just two minutes from his home on Sunday, May 8th. While Nuñez was planning on just depositing some money so his grandfather could buy socks online, he ended up having to make a massive decision after finding a large bag of cash left unattended next to the very ATM he was visiting. 

According to CNN, 19-year-old Nuñez was just on his way to the local ATM on a Sunday to deposit some money so he could help his grandfather by some socks online after they couldn't find the right ones in any stores. After parking his truck and walking towards the ATM outside of a Wells Fargo bank, Nuñez spotted a clear plastic bag filled with stacks of money.

Nuñez told KOAT Action 7 News: In the back of my head, I was thinking about my parents, especially my mom.

Nuñez told CNN:

"I didn't know what to do. I was, like, dreaming. I was just in shock. I was looking at myself and just thinking, 'What should I do?' "


According to Nuñez's interview, there were many factors that influenced his decision on what to do with the money. The bag contained a "foot-long stack" of 20 and 50 dollar bills. Upon making his decision to call the local police station instead of taking the money for himself, Nuñez told CNN that he was thinking of his mother: 

"I had my mom's voice and her 'chancla' in the back of my head. My parents always taught me to work for my own. Stolen money would never last you any time." 

La chancla references to the real, but simultaneously humourous threat of parents spanking children with a flip-flop to keep them doing what's right. With this teaching from his parents in his head, Nuñez called the Albuquerque police to turn over the money.

Once the money reached the police station, it was counted and revealed that the bag totaled a whopping $135,000. Officer Simon Drobik concluded that the money must have been mistakenly left by a bank subcontractor who was in charge of refilling the ATM with cash. Officer Drobik told CNN:

"This money could have made an incredible amount of difference in his life if he went down the other path, but he chose ... the integrity path and did the right thing." 

Although he did not get to take home $135,000, Nuñez did not go home empty-handed. As a current community college student with the hopes of studying criminal justice, Nuñez was welcomed by the Alberquerque to apply for a position as a public safety officer, since he is too young at 19 to become a full-time police officer. 

CNN also reported that Nuñez was gifted $500 gift cards from at least three local businesses in the area along with a $100 gift card from a local restaurant. Albuquerque ESPN Radio 101.7 FM also presented him with sports memorabilia for his good deed, including a signed football from a former NFL player that was drafted from the University of New Mexico, Brian Urlacher. This gift was also paired with six season tickets for UNM football. 

After Nuñez reported the money, he told CNN what he did afterward:

"I went back home and finished my online shopping."

The mother of Nuñez was contacted by him right after his time at the police station on that Sunday. Nuñez's parents had immigrated to the United States from Mexico back in the 1990s, and his mother was very proud of him. 

Nuñez said:

"She told me I did the right thing and that she was proud of me. She called me and almost started crying."

Isn't it admirable that Nuñez decided to call the police instead of taking the money for himself? Do you know of anyone who has ever found a large amount of money? Let us know your thoughts and be sure to pass this on to others so they can read up on Nuñez's integrity, too!