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Woman blasted for refusing to return $45 teen lost in the street: 'It's robbery'

The incident has raised questions over whether its fair to keep money you've found.

Most of us have found a coin on the ground and thought nothing of it when slipping it into our pockets. But when notes are involved, it becomes a little more complicated.

For some, it may be an ethical dilemma as to whether you're entitled to keep money you've found in the street. This week it became a hot topic after a video of an uncomfortable dispute involving a schoolgirl went viral.

The incident unfolded in the Chinese city of Guangzhou after the teenage student dropped 200 yuan ($45) on the ground and it was then picked up by an elderly woman. Once realising what had happened, the schoolgirl asked for her money back, however the woman refused, Chinese state outlet Phoenix TV reported.

The woman who tried to take the cash wears a face mask. A second picture shows the girl on her knees receiving the cash back.
The woman (left) tried to claim the money, before it was eventually handed back to the teen. Source: Weibo

Is it finders keepers?

“Whoever picks up the money should own it," the woman allegedly told the girl.

The girl becomes distressed and pleads with the woman, falling to her knees in tears. She explains the money is her entire weekly living allowance and that she lives with her grandparents.

After the girl's friends and several passers-by remonstrate with the woman, the money is finally returned.

Woman blasted for claiming money

Video of the incident has since spread online across the country, with tens of millions of views across Chinese social media site Weibo. The woman's actions largely sparked outrage from those online, who condemned her behaviour.

"If you don't give it back that's robbery," one top-rating comment read.

"Old and not ashamed," another said.

"How bad can someone be to do something like this," one user wrote.

But a minority questioned the backlash, asking how the woman could be certain the money was the girl's. One person asked if it was "unreasonable" for the woman to make a claim for the cash. Some also criticised the girl for crying, saying it would not help in her bid to retrieve the money.

Yet others pointed out the woman had a legal obligation to return the money to the girl under Chinese law.

"You don't need to kneel down, just call the police," one person wrote.

In Australia, similar legislation exists, with those who find money required to take steps in an effort to return the sum to its owner, or they could face accusations of theft.

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