New Mexico Man Finds $135,000 In Cash Next To ATM, Calls Police Rather Than Keep The Money

'I had my mom's voice and her [threat of a spanking] in the back of my head,' he said.

a pile of cash
NikolayFrolochkin / Pixabay

'I had my mom's voice and her [threat of a spanking] in the back of my head,' he said.

A New Mexico man got quite the surprise when he went to an ATM to make a deposit, only to find $135,000 in cash lying on the ground next to the machine, CNN reports. The man called the police instead of taking the money.

Jose Nuñez Romaniz just wanted to buy socks for his grandfather. Having had no luck finding them at Albuquerque brick & mortar stores, he found the garments he wanted online. However, there wasn’t enough money in his bank account to cover the purchase, so he stopped by an ATM to make a deposit.

As the 19-year-old pulled his truck up next to the machine, he says he spotted something unusual on the ground. It turned out to be a “foot-long stack” of $50 and $20 bills in a clear plastic bag.

“I was just in shock. I was looking at myself and just thinking, ‘What should I do?'” he said of the find.

Among the thoughts that went through his head were that it was some kind of bait — intended to draw his attention away from his surroundings, so that kidnappers could abduct him — or that perhaps he was part of someone’s trick.

a pile of money
  pasja1000 / Pixabay

One thing Romaniz didn’t consider, however, was taking the money and running.

“I had my mom’s voice and her ‘chancla’ in the back of my head,” he said, using a Spanish word that refers to the threat of a spanking.

“My parents always taught me to work for my own. Stolen money would never last you any time,” said Romaniz, who attends college — studying criminal justice — while living at home and caring for his parents and younger siblings.

The man, who says he came from “humble beginnings,” had never seen that kind of money in his life.

Nevertheless, he never once thought of taking the money, and instead called the police.

When authorities arrived, they counted up the money, and found that it totaled to $135,000. It turns out that the sub-contractor who supplied the Wells Fargo ATM with cash inadvertently left the money there.

Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier said — via local TV station KOAT-TV — that the young man’s parents taught him well.

“I think his values were established by the values they established at home,” Geier said.

Though he didn’t take the money, Romaniz’s selfless actions have resulted in something of a windfall in his life. Multiple local businesses have given him gifts, including cash and sports memorabilia. Further, Geier has offered Romaniz a job. Though he’s too young to be a beat cop, Geier said that Romaniz could certainly work as a public safety officer in the force.