09/28/2013 01:00 EDT

The World's Least Honest Cities, According To Reader Digest's 'Lost Wallet Test'


(Relaxnews) - Depending on where you’re from, an interesting experiment conducted around the world could help restore your faith in mankind — or leave you feeling mildly demoralized.

After dispatching a team of reporters in 16 cities to leave wallets in parks, shopping malls and sidewalks, a Reader’s Digest experiment found that Helsinki, Finland emerged the most honest city in the world with Finns returning 11 of 12 wallets intact.

If you happen to lose your wallet in Lisbon, Portugal, however, odds are low you’ll ever see it and your money again, as only one wallet out of 12 was returned. Furthermore, the couple who returned it wasn’t from Lisbon but tourists visiting from Holland.

Reporters were instructed to put a name, cellphone number, family photo, coupons, business cards and the equivalent of $50 USD in a dozen wallets and leave them strewn across their city.

“Then we watched to see what would happen.”

In Budapest, where eight of the 12 wallets were returned, reporters watched a woman in her early sixties open the wallet and enter a nearby building.

“We never heard from her again,” reporters said.

The results also revealed that big bustling cities may suffer from unfair reputations. The teeming metropolis of Mumbai, for instance, where 9 out of 12 wallets were returned ranked the second most honest city ("I teach my children to be honest, just like my parents taught me," said one mother of two), while New Yorkers ranked fourth.

"Everyone says New Yorkers are unfriendly but they’re really quite a nice people," said one government worker. "I think you’d be very surprised to see how many New Yorkers would actually return [a wallet]."

Many of the unwitting participants said it was the family photo that swayed them to return the wallet.

As for what makes Finns particularly honest, one man explained, “We are a small, quiet, closely-knit community. We have little corruption, and we don't even run red lights."

Or as another Finn added, “Honesty is an inner conviction."

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Photo gallery The World's Least Honest Cities See Gallery