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Fil-Am driver returns $300K left in his taxi

A TV grab from CBS TV KLAS shows an official of Yellow Checker and Star Taxi Group of Companies (right) shaking the hand of Gerardo Gamboa after giving him a $1,000 reward for his honesty.

LAS VEGAS – A Filipino-American taxi driver found a paper bag full of cash here last Monday but promptly turned it over to his employer to prove that “Las Vegas may be a Sin City but is actually an Angel City.”

Gerardo Gamboa, 54, a native of Mabalacat, Pampanga and current Nevada resident, handed the $300,000 (P12.6 million) to the Yellow Checker Star cab company, according to the Fil-Am Extra Exchange.

Gamboa was given a $5 tip by the passenger he picked up at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, but who had unknowingly left behind in the taxi a paper bag full of money. He dropped his passenger off at Palm Place Hotel after a five-minute drive, a distance of two miles, the paper said.

When he went to another taxi stand at Bellagio Hotel, its doorman, who hailed Gamboa’s taxi, told him, “There is a bag in (your taxi) full of chocolate.”

When the bag was opened, it turned out to contain bundles of $100 bills totaling $300,000.

An apologetic Gamboa reportedly told the new passenger, “You are my witness. I did not touch anything here.”

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When Gamboa informed his employer of the find, he was told to immediately return to headquarters by on-duty supervisor Terry Mast of Y.C.S. Yellow, Checker and Star Taxi Group of Companies.

The money was counted and audited in front of taxi company officials and later locked in its lost-and-found safety vault.

Hours later, the owner of the cash arrived to claim the money and profusely thanked Gamboa, Fil-Am Extra Exchange said.

The owner turned out to be a world-renowned professional poker player, who had a big night before he hailed Gamboa’s taxi. The poker player did not want to be identified.

At first, CBS TV station KLAS in Las Vegas said the poker player was not able to collect his money pending verification of his identity “because he had no ID.” But when the Las Vegas police confirmed the claimant’s identity, the taxi company gave the money to the poker player.

Checker Group of Companies CEO Bill Shrinko said he was not surprised at the incident as the company had dealt with far bigger amounts left behind in their taxis.

Shrinko added that all drivers of their taxis undergo an almost weekly seminar or continuing education about honesty as professional taxi drivers, emphasizing honesty to all tourists from all over the world visiting the entertainment capital.

Gamboa, for his act of honesty, expressed his desire to prove that Filipinos are hardworking, industrious and honest no matter where they are.

For his honesty, Gamboa was adjudged “Driver of the Year” by the company. He was also given $1,000 in reward money and a dinner for two in a high-end Las Vegas hotel.

Gamboa is the son of the late Manuel Gamboa from Silay City and Leonila Dizon-Gamboa from San Francisco, Mabalacat.

CBS TV KLAS said the owner of the money is going to give Gamboa a “substantial reward.”

Gamboa, a 13-year taxi driver veteran, told another reporter, “I just want to do the right thing.”

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