Investigation puts people's honesty to the test

In the flurry of customers at a Carolina Beach bank, there's one who looks clumsy. It's WECT News Director Raeford Brown dropping his VISA card.

He dropped it on purpose, over and over again, as we conducted an unscientific but revealing honesty test.

News 6 staked out the Bank of America. We watched as person after person picked up the card, and we wondered if they would do the right thing.

Wilmington psychiatrist Tom Milam specializes in helping children and adults with character issues. He says everyone is tempted at that moment of truth to do the wrong thing, but he says most people will think about the consequences and decide not to take a gamble on ill-gotten gains.

Caroline Gorman's moment of truth ended with a trip inside the bank to hand in the card.

"If I lost my ATM card, I hope somebody would turn it in. Those are check cards. You can use them anywhere," Gorman said.

Danny Reynolds made the same decision to return the card to the bank.

Time after time, Raeford's card made a round trip from the ground, into someone's hand, into the bank, and back into his pocket.

The bank manager knows why.

"They're nice people here, honest people."

Because anyone can drop their card accidentally, it is reassuring to find out so many people, at the moment of truth, do the right thing.

Reported by Jim Hanchett