Three friends in New York found $40,000 (£24,000) in a second-hand couch they had bought, then tracked down the owner and returned the cash.
Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo bought the furniture from a charity shop for $20 and found the cash in several envelopes.
The woman said her daughter had sold it while she was in hospital for a surgery, unaware what was inside.
The story was first reported by the blog The Little Rebellion.
"The most money I'd ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I'd be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch," Mr Werkhoven said.
Ms Russo told the blog the trio found the name of the woman on one of the envelopes.
"We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to... It's their money, we didn't earn it," she said.
When they returned the money, the woman rewarded the three roommates with $1,000.
The three, who live in New Paltz, New York, about 85 miles (137km) north of New York City, told the local CBS broadcaster the elderly woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told them she had stashed the money in the couch over a number of years.
The woman told the blog her husband had given her money each week to put away before he died of a heart condition.
"This was her life savings and she actually said something really beautiful like 'this is my husband looking down on me and this was supposed to happen,'" Ms Guasti said.