Brandon Whitney was shredding a pile of documents one day not realizing one of the envelopes contained four crisp $100 bills. He says he wasn't paying attention.
"He said, 'Mom, you won't believe what I did today,'" said Brandon's mother, Leslie Whitney.
In seconds, his $400 turned into confetti. Brandon pulled out each piece and took them all to the bank, but no one there would trade it for spendable cash. That's when he called 7 On Your Side and we found a little known miracle worker.
"There's been an increase in cross cut shredding that come into our office," said Tiyonna White, from the U.S. Treasury Department.
At the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. every day examiners here turn mutilated cash into whole money. It's a free service of the U.S. Government and plenty of people use it, too. There are about 20,000 packages of damaged money arrive each year. Most of it looks far worse than Brandon's.
One person buried their life savings in their backyard and the money grew moldy. Amazingly, the bureau redeems the remains of old bills for real money.
We told Brandon about it, and immediately he sent his chopped-up bills to the treasury. Then, he waited for a while.
"The longer it went, the more I thought I wasn't going to be getting anything back for it," said Brandon.
Finally, his answer arrived in the mail.
"One day, out of the blue, I got a check from the Department of Treasury," said Brandon. "I opened it up and it was for the entire $400. It's pretty cool actually. I wasn't expecting to get any of it back."
It took eight weeks, but Brandon's $400 is back in his pocket.
"I would never have found out about it if he hadn't been for you," said Brandon.
"We're pretty happy, pretty grateful to Channel 7," said Leslie.
So how can those examiners repair even burned money? Well, they simply verify that it was once real cash and after that, if they can identify at least 51 percent of a bill, they will replace it.