Four in 10 Britons would lie if they could get away with it, study claims

Almost half of those polled said they would pocket cash left behind at an ATM by someone else: Rex Features

Four in 10 people have admitted to being dishonest and said they would happily lie if they thought they could get away with it, according to a new poll.

Almost half of those surveyed would take money left behind by someone else at an ATM, while 53 per cent said they would keep quiet if they were given more change than they were owed in a shop.

One third confessed they would keep £250,000 that did not belong to them - if they knew they could get away with it.

Respondents also admitted to telling at least one lie a day, despite 78 per cent considering honesty to be the most important quality in someone.

''It is interesting to see how people are more willing to lie if they thought they could get away with a cash reward," said Ray Howard, detective on Sky One's The Heist, which commissioned the research. ''Whilst most people will refrain from doing things they know are unacceptable, the difference between how honest we believe we are, and the amount of dishonest acts we commit, shows we never know how we will react when you are put in a certain situation.”

The study of 2,000 adults found 14 per cent would immediately take money left in an ATM, no questions asked.

Another 32 per cent said they would have a quick look around for the person it could belong to – but then keep it if there was no one nearby. Just 35 per cent said they would hand it into the bank or police.

It was not just money where respondents were lacking in honesty though with just three in 10 saying they would tell their friend if they found out their mate’s partner was cheating on them.

In total, 17 per cent said they would keep quiet and not get involved.

But when it comes to gadgets or lost items most we more honest, with two thirds claiming they would hand an item over to officials if they found it somewhere such as on a bus or train.

But one in 10 said they would happily walk off with the item and keep it for themselves.