An eBay shopper in Germany had the surprise of his life when he found a secret stash of $222,000 inside the cupboard of a second-hand kitchen cabinet he bought online. 

However, the man has to give up the treasure as keeping it would attract a jail term under the country's law.

Thomas Heller of Bitterfeld, in central Germany, bought the kitchen cabinet made of oak veneer from an elderly couple’s estate sale from Halle, a city 18 miles away. The 50-year-old, who works as social housing managing director, struck the deal with the seller thru e-Bay and got the piece of furniture at a price of $356, News.com.au reported.

Days after the bargain purchase, while Heller was going through the cabinets, he found a stashed envelope with money inside it. Heller then took the cabinets to the police, who searched the cupboard and found the rest of the treasure.

 “One [envelope] was open and a lot of bills were looking at me. They[the police] opened the second, locked [box] in front of my eyes. There were larger bills in the envelopes. Two hundred, five hundred," Heller said.

The investigators later found out that the money belonged to a 91-year-old woman who stays in a retirement home after her husband passed away. The man who sold the cabinets to Heller was the woman's grandson, and he had no idea about the hidden money, News 18 reported.

"The kitchen came from a household liquidation by an elderly couple from Halle. The two cash boxes were well hidden in areas of the furniture that were difficult to see," police spokesperson Astrid Kuchta said.

Under German law, keeping found cash of $15 or above is a criminal offense that could be classified as embezzlement. However, according to the Good Samaritan clause of the law, a finder is entitled to receive a 3 percent fee, which is $6,660 in this case.

Meanwhile, Heller has not revealed what he plans to do with the money he will receive as the finder's fee.

dollars-g9d02ef035_640 representational image Photo: pixabay