Honesty pays off for US homeless man who turned in $52,000

NEW YORK CITY (AFP) - Honesty has - quite literally - paid off for a United States homeless man who turned in a US$42,000 (S$52,380) find: a bid to raise money for him passed the US$100,000 mark on Thursday.

Mr Glen James came across a backpack containing US$2,400 in cash and some US$40,000 in traveler's checks, along with a passport, at a Boston shopping mall on Saturday.

He promptly alerted the authorities, earning him special thanks and recognition from the city's police chief Ed Davis.

But that wasn't enough for Mr Ethan Whittington, a 27-year-old who launched an online fundraising effort to help James find his footing.

As of 4.30pm GMT, that effort - on gofundme.com - had garnered US$104,625.

"Let's all chip in and help this man change his life," Mr Whittington wrote on the crowdfunding site.

The pitch also sparked housing offers, including one from Ms Cynthia Lasprogata who said Mr James could come stay at a one-bedroom apartment in Greene, New York, "until he is back on his feet financially." Mr James, who is 54 and has been homeless since 2005, modestly said he would never "have kept even a penny" of the hefty find.

"I just want to thank you so much for being so kind," he told Mr Whittington, who lives in the US state of Virginia, in a phone call.

"Those donations will help me to get a brand new start in life."

Mr Whittington countered that Mr James, whom he has never met, was the one who deserved all the credit.

"You're the one who has done everything," he said. "You've revived my faith in humanity and in the United States, man."