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 contents
- Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
- Uncashed cashier's checks or money orders
- Certificates of deposit
- Matured or terminated insurance policies
- Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts
People 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 assets belonging to you could become a difficult to impossible process. Given that this database has at most 18 million rows, there's no excuse for such a basic (and important) feature to be missing.
Leaving aside the flaws and the apparent lack of due diligence on the part of the state of California, let's try to find some interesting examples of owed property.
Strategy - celebrities and the super wealthy with either unusual names and/or known cities (through Forbes or others).
- Steven Spielberg - Cashier's checks for $10000 (George Lucas is owed $35.92)
- Richard P Feynman - Liquidating fund earnings for $2864.57 (plus others totaling $644.16)
- Charles R Schwab - Funds for liquidation for $35682
- Current Governor Jerry Brown - Other for $2000 (plus others totaling $9505.02)
- Sergey Brin - Stanford University paychecks for $1184.49 (plus others totaling $1071.32)
- Michael Jackson - Safe deposit box (plus wages from NBC for $93; mineral interests)
- Paris Hilton - Credit balance for $472.96 (plus others)
- Steve Wozniak - Misc outstanding checks for $269 (plus some money from Apple)
- Meg Whitman - $146.14 (credit balance from Tiffany & Co)
On a personal note, I've found about $40K for friends plus businesses they own (over $20K in one case).