The windfall must have seemed heaven-sent. How else to explain a young man who had fled Syria’s violence and reached Germany — where he realized the donated wardrobe he’d been given contained 50,000 euros (around $55,000) in cash?
But instead of keeping it, the man contacted the immigration office to ask about turning the money in. And so, eight months after he entered Germany as a refugee from Homs, Syria, the man is being praised as a hero by local police for his honesty.
The man, identified by German media as Muhannad M., was given the wardrobe to help furnish his apartment in Minden, a city west of Hanover. As he cleaned and reassembled the pieces, he found a wide storage pouch hidden beneath a lower shelf. In it: a hundred 500-euro notes, along with bank passbooks to accounts holding an additional 100,000 euros (around $110,000).
Before he could decide what to do with the money, Muhannad, 25, first had to check whether the 500-euro notes were real. A check online revealed that they were.
The money could have helped Muhannad get his two younger brothers out of Syria and into a new life in Germany. But he tells Germany’s Bild newspaper that he couldn’t do that.
“I am a Muslim. I’m not allowed to keep this money. My religion forbids it,” he said, in a translation by news site The Local. “Allah would never allow me to finance my own interests with someone else’s wealth.”
Muhannad stands to get a reward of 3 percent of the total amount of his discovery – around $4,500. The police in Minden say they’re trying to track down the wardrobe’s former owner.