WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The State of Florida has a billion dollars of your money and property. Schools, businesses, and consumers are all owed cash or jewelry forgotten in a safe deposit box. It's gone unclaimed for years, but it can be yours with a simple search.
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Many companies will offer to find the money for you, but there's no need to pay them. You can do the searching yourself. George Barrs received many letters from finders, some wanting to charge $7-8,000.
"I think it ought to be illegal. It's certainly immoral," Barrs explained.
He never paid the fee, and never collected his money because he wasn't sure how to do it for free. He put off the task until he got a call from the Consumer Watchdog . We helped him reconnect with more than $149,000. As a former public defender, he is used to giving back and said he has many candidates for this money.
The Consumer Watchdog drove from the Treasure Coast to Boca Raton searching for people owed money.
Our searching revealed $235 million of local money sitting in the state's bank account.
"You're always looking for an extra couple of hundred dollars. Imagine finding that. Oh my God!" Lillian Baumann explained.
Baumann joined our search party when she saw us looking for her neighbor.
"Who knows maybe there is something there for me," Baumann said.
We told her she could search anytime.
"You got to be kidding!" Baumann said.
The state provided NewsChannel 5 with a list of money owed to residents, businesses, trust funds, and schools in Martin, Palm Beach, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties.
Baumann's search didn't reveal any lost treasures. You should search variations of your name, and deceased relatives. Many of the top accounts are for estates or part of an old trust fund.
Many people have no idea the state owes them money.
Subi had no idea why the Watchdog was looking for him.
"Did you used to work for a Darden restaurant?" the Watchdog asked.
"Yes," Subi said.
"Do you think they owe you money?" the Watchdog asked.
"I don't think so. Do they owe me?" Subi asked.
We found old paychecks and bank accounts in Washington, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The value was more than $106,000 making that dream of owning a home a little easier.
"Thanks to you. Thanks to you NewsChannel 5 for finding this all for me and tracking me down. I'd really like to thank you for that," Subi explained.
We know of more than 55,000 other lost bank accounts and funds in South Florida.
To search the entire state of Florida, try the state's Treasure Hunt website.
It's not just money that the state has of yours. Some of it is jewelry or coins from safe deposit boxes. You need to search your name today, because the state is auctioning off 80,277 items at the end of the month. The reserve value is $657,704.02.
Time is running out to claim your belongings before they go to the highest bidder. The state's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater will hold the Florida Unclaimed Property auction August 23-24 at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hilton, 1870 Griffin Road, Dania Beach, FL 33004. The auction is open to the public. The auction will start at 10 a.m. and last until it's finished.
You can search the catalog of items to be auctioned .