12/19/2014 12:20 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST

Montreal police officer hands out money instead of tickets

Montrealer Maude Laurier was driving to work this week when she was pulled over by a police officer, but instead of getting a ticket, she was handed a $100 bill.

"He told me that he will give me a gift that morning, and I was surprised," Laurier recalled. 

"And he gave me a $100 bill. So I was really surprised a little bit. And after that a little bit happy and emotional about that, just before Christmas."

The officer, who has remained anonymous, has given out cash to at least 50 people, most of them with run-down cars in need of repairs, said Ian Lafrenière, a spokesman for Montreal police. 

Lafrenière said when he heard what the officer was doing, he couldn't believe it. 

"I thought it was a prank, it was a joke," he said. 

"Then we found out about it. It's the officer, a friend of his gave him money, $5,000, and he asked him to give out the money and make a difference this year." 

The reaction has been overwhelming, Lafrenière said.

"[The officer] was extremely touched by the reaction of people, people crying of joy, being so surprised at getting money from a police officer," he said.

The officer has finished handing out money for now, Lafrenière said.