BOULDER, Colo. - A man visiting from Egypt found $10,000 in gold coins in a suitcase he bought at a thrift store for his trip home - and instead of keeping it, he spent an entire week tracking down the coins' original owner.
Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy Yousef was at the University of Colorado Boulder for the academic year as a visiting faculty member. In preparing for his trip home, the researcher purchased a suitcase at a thrift store. When he got home, he noticed the suitcase wouldn't stay balanced. He opened up a pocket and found an envelope containing $10,000 in gold coins inside.
Ahmed is Muslim and said his faith instructed him to give it back.
"You should deliver to the right person, whatever effort or time. So I follow my ethics," Ahmed told KDVR.
The researcher spent his final week at the university trying to find the coins' owner. The envelope had the name "James Noble" and an old address written on it. Ahmed said he called 76 different people, vetting them and asking questions. For days, he didn't hear the answer he was looking for from the people he called.
Finally, Ahmed found Forrest Noble, the son of James Noble. Forrest Noble lived in Boulder.
"I received a phone call from a man who asked me if I was James Noble. And that’s my father who passed away four years ago. And I was definitely on guard with all the scam phone calls out there," said Noble.
"He said he had to meet me in person, which was odd. And I thought this is definitely a level up from the normal scam. I was like, 'OK I’ll meet you in a public place," said Noble.
The two met at a hotel. Ahmed asked Noble a few more follow up questions. Noble explained how his mom had recently passed away, and that he and his brothers were donating his parents items to thrift stores in the area. When Ahmed heard those words, he knew he'd found the right person.
"He said I have something for you and he produced all these gold coins," said Noble. "He gave it back to me and I was like, I couldn’t believe it. I was crying. It was unbelievable."
"This is a fantastic experience in my life," said Ahmed.
Ahmed and Noble hope the story changes people's perspective on people who practice Islam and on people from the Middle East.
"Something like this you hope breaks down those walls a little bit," said Noble.
"I am excited to live out this positive message about my country, about my religion," said Ahmed.
Ahmed said he is relieved he reunited Noble with the coins before he left the U.S. because he would have continued his search from Egypt, but it would have been more difficult. Ahmed said if he didn't find the owner in his lifetime, the task would have been passed down to his children to complete.