Tue, Nov 14, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Lady's stash of cash becomes a bunch of trash

SURPRISE A woman from Kaohsiung might get her money back after the 484 NT$1,000 bills she had hidden behind a closet were consumed by mold

By Chang Kuo-cheng and Yang Kuo-wen  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Stacks of mildewed NT$1,000 bills are displayed last Tuesday at the home of Tang Ying-ying in Kaohsiung. The Bureau of Investigation is certifying their authenticity so that Tang can exchange them for new bills.

PHOTO: CHANG KUO-CHENG, TAIPEI TIMES

A woman from Kaohsiung was horrified to discover that a hefty stack of NT$1,000 bills she had hidden behind a closet last year had turned into an almost unrecognizable, moldy mess.

But with the help of the Ministry of Justice's Bureau of Investigation, she might still get her money back.

Tang Ying-ying (唐鶯鶯), 58, had divided NT$484,000 in thousand-dollar bills into five piles and wrapped them in newspapers last July.

She then hid the cash in the gap between her child's closet and the wall so that her husband would not find it.

Tang said she had completely forgotten about the money until she cleaned her child's room last week.

Because of the humid environment, the 484 bills had become severely mildewed and are almost unrecognizable, having turned into five "paper bricks."

Tang immediately took the money to the Kaohsiung branch of the Bank of Taiwan (BOT) with the hope of exchanging the damaged bills for new ones, but the bank said that the money had been too badly damaged.

She then turned to local borough chief Wang Chien-yi (王建一) for help. Wang helped her arrange a meeting with the bank's assistant manager Chiang Tsung-hsueh (蔣宗學), who passed the matter on to the Bureau of Investigation for a final decision.

Chiang told Tang that paper bills were actually quite fragile, and that the best way to preserve them was to deposit the money in a bank.

The Bureau of Investigation has been offering authentication of accidentally cremated bills or bonds for many years. Just over two years ago it also began authenticating bills which had been soaked in water or damaged by bugs.

The bureau is the only agency that provides such services in Taiwan, and the examinations are free of charge.

If the money is found to be authentic, the bureau issues a certificate which enables the owners to exchange their ruined bills for new ones.

The examination process usually takes two to eight weeks.

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