Abbie Jacobson of Scarborough, Maine, scored Justin Bieber concert tickets… (Philip Taylor / Flickr )
When 8-year-old Abbie Jacobson peered inside a purse she found on the ground and saw a fat roll of $100 bills, her immediate thought was to find the owner. Her parents? They admit to a few seconds of fantasy spending.
"I spent it 30 times over in about 10 seconds," Abbie's mother, Jenn Jacobson, told the Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine. "Hey, we're human like everyone else," the girl's father, John Jacobson, joked.
The family then embarked on a search that eventually landed the money back with its owner and gave Abbie her dream reward: Justin Bieber concert tickets.
The story began in April, when Abbie and her parents, who live in Scarborough, Maine, were going shopping at a local Sam's Club. Jenn Jacobson was in the store, and Abbie and her father were rushing to catch up when something caught Abbie's eye. It was a small green purse lying on the ground.
She opened it and, in addition to the roll of bills, saw gold jewelry, a debit card and more loose cash.
Abbie said she never hesitated to try to find the owner. "Because I wouldn't want to lose all that money and have someone take it," she told the Press Herald, which first reported the story last week. But finding the true owner proved more difficult than any of them imagined.
From looking at the name on the debit card -- Ra Rim -- and examining some of the currency, the family quickly figured out that the likely owner of the money was Cambodian. When they approached a young Cambodian man who had entered the Sam's store just in front of Abbie, though, the language barrier prevented them from getting their message across.
It turned out the young man was the son of Ra Rim, a Cambodian woman who immigrated to the United States less than two years ago and who planned to use the money to visit relatives back in Cambodia. She didn't even know that the cash was missing until hours later, when she got home.
The Jacobson family, meanwhile, found itself in the unusual position of possessing an apparent windfall and being utterly miserable. "I was worried," said Abbie. "We were all sick to our stomachs that someone had lost so much," said her mother.
They handed the money over to the police, and the next morning they called the credit union that had issued the debit card and asked them to notify the mysterious Ra Rim. That broke the logjam. The woman's daughter, Chansatha Meas, who speaks English, took the call from the credit union, told her distraught mother, and a meeting was arranged to hand over the green purse, which contained a total of $4,202.
The Press Herald said this all took place during the spring and only came to light last month when a woman who teaches English to immigrants, including to Chansatha Meas, heard the tale and passed it on to the newspaper.
That led a reporter to ask Abbie what she would do with a wad of cash.
Her reply: Go see Justin Bieber in concert.
And that's what she'll be doing in November, with tickets purchased by the Bank of Maine, whose chief executive, John Everets, read the story of the green purse and decided to get tickets to the sold-out show for Abbie and her family.
The bank's senior vice president, Renee Smyth, said it was a chance to show someone that dreams can come true.
Plus, she told the Portland newspaper, she has her own children and understands Bieber-mania. "I'm embarrassed to say I do know all the words" to the young star's hits, said Smyth.