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Showing posts from February, 2013

Mining the First 3.5 Million California Unclaimed Property Records

As I mentioned in my previous article the state of California has over $6 billion in assets listed in its unclaimed property database. The search interface that California provides is really too simplistic for this type of search, as misspelled names and addresses are both common and no doubt responsible for some of these assets going unclaimed. There is an alternative, however - scrape the entire database and mine it at your leisure using any tools you want.

Here's a basic little scraper written in Ruby.

It's a slow process, but I've managed to pull about 10% of the full database in the past 24 hours (3.5 million out of about 36 million).

What does the distribution of these unclaimed assets look like? 

Among those with non-zero cash reported amounts:
Total value - $511 millionMedian value - $15Mean value - $15790th percentile - $18295th percentile - $39898th percentile - $1,00099th percentile - $1,93799.9th percentile - $14,20399.99th percentile - $96,478Visually, it looks lik…

Sergey Brin, Please Pick up your Paychecks

The state of California is currently holding over $6 billion in unclaimed property belonging to millions of people. What type of property and who are the rightful owners? According to California's official unclaimed property website, these assets fall into the following categories:
Bank accounts and safe deposit box contentsStocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividendsUncashed cashier's checks or money ordersCertificates of depositMatured or terminated insurance policiesEstatesMineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accountsPeople forget, people die, people move around. But $6 billion is a staggering amount of money; some of these amounts have to be really large. Let's try to find some interesting examples.
This is official California UCP search form. Programmer and database types will notice one problem immediately - no fuzzy string matching. If your name or address was misspelled on the assets, or munged in the recording process, tracking down any asse…