After searching for secondhand furniture on Craigslist, one woman thought she found the perfect couch - and best of all, it was free! Little did she know, there was more to this free offer than met the eye…
After decades of living in America, Vicky Umodu had built a comfortable life for herself and her family. She was grateful for everything that came her way and turned that gratitude into helping others.
Vicky and her husband were both born in Nigeria and spent their early adult lives working and living in their home country. In 1988, their first child was on the way, so the couple decided to make the move to the U.S. to start a new life for their growing family...
A New Life
Despite their fears and uncertainties, the pair successfully made the move from Nigeria to the United States and began to look for employment. Vicky found work as a midwife and registered nurse, and her husband quickly opened a small business. Their new chapter had officially begun.
Over those few decades spent in America, Vicky and her husband raised six children together. The pair doted on their offspring, so much so that Vicky even chose to take a volunteer position as a teaching assistant at their school, just so she could be closer to them. In her eyes, life couldn’t get any better.
Family Is Everything
As Vicky's children grew up, so did their family. Those six kids went out into the world and started lives of their own, including their own little families. "My children are all grown now, so my grandchildren are my main focus," Vicky explained proudly.
She was beyond dedicated as a grandmother, pouring as much of her time as possible into caring for her grandchildren. "When my two oldest grandchildren are away at school, I babysit the youngest one," she gushed. Life had taught her that good things came with time, and that certainly explains what happened later…
But before we get to that, it’s important to explain that despite her gratitude and positivity, Vicky’s life wasn’t all sunshine and roses. There was also great sadness in between those moments of joy. This was particularly true when Vicky’s husband passed away, a devastating loss that his wife could scarcely comprehend.
Her husband had been her rock, her life companion, starting from their lives as young people in Nigeria to their cross-continent journey in building a successful life together in the US. Vicky found the grief and loneliness hard to bear and needed her family around her as much as possible.
Now her husband was gone, Vicky found most of her happiness spending time with her beloved children, just as she had when she was a young mother. She wanted nothing more than to be close with her children and grandchildren, though they lived in Southern California. After discussing it with her daughter, they hatched a plan.
Instead of driving long stretches every day to visit them in San Bernadino, Vicky’s daughter agreed that she should relocate to Southern California to be closer to her grandchildren. She was no longer tied to a place, so moving closer was a natural decision. But Vicky had no idea just how much the move would change her life.
Life in SoCal
Soon enough, the older woman found a home in Colton, California. It was small but nice and seemed like a more than fitting place to spend the rest of her days. She sold and gave away all of her furniture and some other belongings before setting off on this new adventure.
And Vicky’s daughter was there to greet her and help her get settled in Southern California. They cleaned the house together, making it spotless before they began unpacking all of Vicky’s belongings. But though she had bought many essentials and cherished things, she was missing some major household items.
Vicky wanted her house to feel like a home, but that wasn't so easy when she lacked enough furniture to fill it. After all, she had left most of those larger household items behind. "Sofas, tables, chairs, beds — I needed everything," she recalled of that first week in San Bernadino County.
And it wasn’t just basic living and bedroom room furniture - she had no kitchen appliances either. She even spent that first week living without a fridge! She quickly realized that she had to get to work furnishing her home, so she could begin enjoying her latest chapter.
Browsing Through Craiglist
Unfortunately, most of the furniture she previously owned had been given away for free, which left Vicky with only a small budget to spend on new (or likely secondhand) furniture. Most furniture stores were out of her price range, so she found herself browsing Craigslist for cheaper thrifted options.
She had come to the right place. Vicky eventually landed on a listing for a lovely cream couch that looked perfect for her new living room and seemed to be in good condition too. As she read through the details on the listing, her eyes were drawn to something that seemed a little suspicious.
Could It Be True?
According to the Craigslist post, the couch cost nothing at all! The older woman was convinced she had misunderstood the post, so she sent it to her daughter to investigate. But it turned out Vicky was right - the couch was being given away. It seemed too good to be true.
"I thought it must be a gimmick," is how she described her mindset when she sent an inquiry to the seller. "But [the seller] was very kind and told us to come to the house." The couch was a dream come true - and in more ways than one, as she was about to discover.
The Perfect Fit
That week Vicky arranged to take a look at the couch with her daughter. And to her surprise, there were no underlying issues that the seller had conveniently hidden. The couch was perfect - and comfortable too! She told the man she wanted to claim it and quickly arranged delivery to her home.
For the elderly woman, it was a huge relief to find something nice for her new house that cost nothing but a small delivery fee. "I'd given away most of what I had before the move and was planning to try and find some cheap furniture somewhere," she said. She wouldn't have to settle for flimsy, cheaply-made furniture after all.
A Good Sign
Before Vicky found her beautiful cream-colored couch, her living room had been virtually empty - with nothing but dining chairs to sit in. In between the hustle and bustle of cleaning, unpacking, and rearranging, she had to sit on these uncomfortable chairs whenever she needed a break.
So when the couch was delivered to her house, she could finally relax in true comfort. And not only that - it made a huge difference to the environment. With just one piece of furniture, the house felt a little closer to being complete, a sign of the (many) good things to come.
Not What She Expected
But on the day it was delivered, Vicky was surprised to see there was more than just a couch on her doorstep. The movers also had a cardboard box that had come alongside it. They mentioned that the seller had asked them to include it in the delivery. What could it be?
When the woman opened the box in front of her, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Not only had the generous man given Vicky a lovely couch for free, but he had included a box full of kitchenware and extra appliances because she had told him she was trying to fill an empty house on a small budget.
A Sweet Surprise
When she had been examining the couch, the man had told Vicky that everything he posted on Craigslist belonged to his uncle. The younger man was giving them away on his behalf. He had no need for them any longer but he wanted them to go to people who needed them.
So the man decided to give a few extras to Vicky, a gesture that both surprised and touched the woman. After all, it wasn't every day that one received such a generous act of kindness from complete strangers. She had no idea that the luck this family had brought her was far from over…
Now that she had these new additions to her home, it was time to start redecorating and rearranging the furniture. Vicky and her daughter set about choosing the best spot for her new sofa and everything else she planned to purchase in the coming weeks.
After some time, the pair found the perfect place to move her new sofa and even planned how the rest of the furniture would fit around it. Satisfied, they took a step back and glanced around the room, imagining how the house would look when it was done. But as she turned back to the couch, something caught her eye.
Between The Cushions
There seemed to be something wrong with one of the couch cushions, as one looked much bulkier than the other. Maybe she had finally discovered why the couch was free? She grabbed the lumpy couch cushion to inspect it more closely and find out what was wrong.
Vicky fully expected to find a tear in the cushion or damaged fabric, anything that would explain why the cushion looked so even. She bent down by the cushion, examining the seams and sides for damage. There was nothing of note until she lifted it up.
A Strange Sighting
Lying beneath the couch cushion was the last thing she had expected to find - a large, thick envelope nestled into the sides of the couch. That would explain why it caused such a lump beneath the cushion. But why was it there? It started with a couch, then an extra box, and now this…
So Vicky pulled the envelope from the edges of the couch, wondering if the seller had left something important inside, like personal documents or receipts of some kind. It all seemed quite strange, but the elderly woman had no idea that things were about to get much, much stranger.
The Mysterious Bundle
As she unearthed the envelope and peeled the front fold open to see what was inside, her eyes were met by the last thing she could ever have expected to find - money. Lots of money. Within seconds she could see that the thick bundle had to be made up of thousands of dollars.
Vicky was in shock. But even more so, she was horrified that that nice family was missing thousands of dollars of their money. She called her son immediately. "I was just telling my son, 'Come, come, come!' I was screaming, 'this is money! I need to call the guy,'" she explained.
Counting It Out
Within the hour, her son had arrived at the house, worried by his mother's panic and unsure of what was actually going on. Upon walking into the near-empty living room and finding his mother clutching a huge wad of money beside the sofa, he was just as concerned as she was.
Together the mother and son began counting the envelope's contents. There was an assortment of bills, including 20s, 500s, and 100s. and after several minutes of counting, they realized that Vicky was in possession of more than $36,000! It was a life-changing amount of money. And Vicky realized she had a dilemma on her hands.
Making A Decision
With that kind of money, Vicky would have no problem filling her house with beautiful furniture. $36,000 would get her everything she needed to settle down in Colton - and then some! All she needed to do was keep quiet about her discovery. But of course, the older woman didn’t consider it for even a second.
"I knew I couldn't keep it, I knew I had to give it back," she insisted. She may have been short on money, but she had more than enough to feel satisfied with life. "God has been kind to me and my children, they're all alive and well. I have three beautiful grandchildren, so what can I ever ask from God?"
Taking It Back
In Vicky’s eyes, there was no way the money had been tucked away on purpose. All of this was a terrible mistake, and now that generous family was missing an enormous amount of money. Once she’d calmed herself down, she grabbed her phone and called the man who had given her the couch.
She told him exactly what had happened that afternoon, including how much money she had found and where she had found it. She told him she'd be happy to return it at his convenience. It was no surprise that the man rushed to her home as soon as possible to assess the situation.
A Priceless Reward
But in truth, he was shocked by the woman's actions. In most situations where large sums of money are misplaced, it's unlikely one ever sees it again. Most people would simply pocket it and say nothing. The man felt that Vicky's kindness and honesty shouldn't go unrewarded.
So he took $2,200 from the envelope and handed it right back to her. It may have been a relatively small amount compared to the contents of the envelope, but it was more than Vicky could have possibly expected. In fact, she hadn’t expected anything at all, perhaps simply an acknowledgment of her kind deed.
Everything Coming Together
"I was not expecting a dime from him, I was not," she assured ABC-7, who were eager to cover her heartwarming story. For Vicky, returning the money was the right thing to do, regardless of whether she'd be rewarded for it or not. But there was no denying that she was incredibly grateful for the gift.
With $2,200 in her pocket, Vicky had enough money to purchase the more expensive appliances that her new house needed. She used it to buy a good-quality secondhand fridge to finish off her kitchen as well as a few smaller items. Her new SoCal home was finally coming together.
How It All Started
Some readers are probably wondering how so much money came to be hidden in a couch that was given away for free. According to one publication that covered the story, the seller told Vicky that his uncle had recently passed away, and his family chose to give away his leftover belongings to people in need.
But as it turned out, their uncle had told a separate relative he had been stowing his money away in random places around the house. He had been doing it for years, and while Vicky found the idea utterly strange, she hadn’t pressed the man for any more information.
Wads of Cash
In the spirit of friendly conversation, the man who sold her the couch told Vicky that even though he didn’t know why his uncle had hidden his money around the house, he soon discovered that there was money everywhere. It started with him finding $1,000 hidden away by his deceased uncle.
As they began sorting through his uncle's belongings, the man went on to find literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, all tucked away in random hiding places and compartments in his home. Vicky was confident that no matter what reason the man had for hiding his money, it wasn't her place to keep any of it.
After reflecting on the amazing discovery - and her decision to return the money to the man's family - Vicky walked away from the experience with an important lesson. "All my life, God has been good to me," she explained. "Even in hard times, I have felt blessed. It's important to do the right thing in life."
Her honesty and generosity had taken her far - but it all started back in Nigeria. As a young girl, she was raised to know the importance of being truthful to the people around her and treating them well. Even moving to the other side of the world hadn’t changed those built-in values.
Coming Full Circle
Not only was it the morally good thing to do, but it was an excellent choice from a practical perspective too. Not only was she living closer to her beloved family now, but the move was made so much easier thanks to the $2000+ that allowed her to buy much of her furniture.
Now, Vicky had a lovely home and an even lovelier life. "We are all very comfortable and enjoying the beautiful furniture that was generously given to us at a time when we really needed it," she said. It was a surprising end to a story that had started with a seemingly too-good-to-be-true Craigslist post.
"Happy to Help"
The story eventually spread wide enough that even the man who had given away the couch chipped in. "I was happy to help Vicky and put the furniture and other items to good use," he said. "When she called me about the Craigslist ad, she told me she had nothing and needed everything that I was posting."
And as it turned out, he had also entered this story with similar suspicions. Not because of Vicky herself, but because people often claimed free furniture and items so they could sell them on. He admitted that "My heart went out to her, but you also wonder if somebody is going to turn around and sell everything for a profit."
Validated, At Last
But as we know now, the man had nothing to worry about. And when Vicky called him with the shocking news of what she’d discovered, he knew that he had given his couch to an honest person. That feeling was only compounded when he arrived at her home and walked inside.
The man immediately noticed that the sofa was the only piece of furniture in Vicky’s home - she had been telling the truth. And when she solemnly placed the full envelope into his hand, he knew he had encountered a truly good person with an uncommon and refreshing sense of honesty.
And as Vicky Umodu passed that $36,000 envelope to the man she’d met the day before, she felt no sense of regret or second-guessing. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that returning the money was the right thing to do, and she could continue living life with a clean conscience.
And for her, that was of utmost importance. She planned to spend the foreseeable future with the people she loved the most, and she wanted to start her new life in southern California with true peace of mind. "No, I haven't found any more money in the cushions," she later joked.
And there was another wonderful thing she had learned from this unique experience - that there truly were kind and generous people in her new home city of Colton, California. Even without the necessary presence of her family, it still would have been a wonderful place to settle down.
And, of course, Vicky Umodu’s honesty had been met with even more generosity, allowing her to buy some necessary but expensive home appliances. And given the way her story ended, it seems that she had been right all along - honesty truly is the best policy, and kindness is the greatest gift one can give.