Joey Coyle uses the alias Frankie Santos. In real life, a friend named Frank Santos took him to the airport to flee. (There was no Monica in real life.)
Joey Coyle was a drug user in real life, and killed himself in 1993. Also, in real life, Coyle was fair haired and colored his hair dark, in reverse of the film.
In real life, Joey Coyle and the mobster did not force the car into water, but simply drove to New Jersey and abandoned it. Also, in real life, three people saw Coyle find and take the money, unlike in the movie where the movie Coyle does stop to check to see if anyone was around when he found the money and sees nobody (in fact in the movie a homeless boy saw him, but was hidden from view).
Joey Coyle did not live with his brother in real life. However, he fall through a ceiling when trying to hide the money. Other scenes with basis in reality include the policeman asking to be locked in the van to test its strength.
Though the time frame in the film seems undefined, in real life, Joey Coyle found the money on 26 February 1981 and was arrested on 4 March 1981.
Joey Coyle was with two men, not one, when he found the money, and unlike in the film, did not stop to make sure that nobody saw him, so three people saw him find and take the money.
The memorable scene in the bathroom where Joey Coyle puts on pantyhose to hide the money in did happen, but Coyle changed his mind and removed the hose before boarding the plane.
A full non-fiction account of this story was written in 2002, titled Finders Keepers by Mark Bowden. Finders Keepers was a working title Mark Bowden used for this film, but was subsequently changed to Money For Nothing.
A significant portion of the cast went on to have successful careers in both Television and Film.
There was no Vinnie in real life. However, Joey Coyle did meet with a mob employee named Masi, whose father did deliver items to Laurenzi's father's business.
James Gandolfini appears with Elizabeth Bracco in this film. He would go on to appear with her older sister, Lorraine Bracco, in The Sopranos.
A neon sign in Lindey's bar reads "DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY". That titled song by Bobby McFerrin wasn't released until 1988, seven years after the timeline for this film.
The reporter in the movie is named Lois Bowden. Lois Bowden is the mother of writer Mark Bowden. However, the anchor mispronounces "Bow" in "Bowden" like a "bow tie", when in real life Mark Bowden pronounces his surname, like a stage bow.