Money goes in search of its rightful owners

March 18, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow came yesterday in the form of a newspaper advertisement for 398 Anne Arundel County residents and organizations.

The advertisement is part of a statewide campaign to reunite 18,915 groups and individuals with lost fortunes that can range from $50 up to several hundred thousand dollars, said Marvin Bond, spokesman for the state comptroller of the treasury.

The money represents forgotten bank accounts, security deposits, stocks, bonds and unclaimed wages -- all waiting to be retrieved by the owners or their heirs.

The benefactors run the gamut from government offices to community associations to the man or woman on the street. Yesterday's listings included an unclaimed refund to the National Security Agency from the Washington Post Co., a forgotten savings account for Marley Neck's Sand Lotters Sports Foundation and uncashed checks made out to the U.S. Naval Academy from W.W. Grainger Inc. and Xerox Corp.

Anne Arundel County government can claim an uncashed certified check, as can the Glen Burnie postmaster. The Harundale Civic Association Building Fund was listed for an old savings account.

Most individual cases involve bank accounts, typically with $50 to $250 in them, Mr. Bond said.

Judi Emmel, a spokeswoman for the NSA, said her agency was unaware of the unclaimed refund when contacted by a reporter.

"I'm curious now," Ms. Emmel said. "In these budget times, if the agency is owed something, we'd sure like to get it."

For the next two weeks, the comptroller's office will be advertising unclaimed funds in newspapers throughout the state.

State law requires financial institutions, insurance companies, utilities, rental companies and other corporations to report bank accounts, security deposits, insurance benefits and the contents of safe deposit boxes that are unclaimed or inactive after five years.

If the owners still are not found, the state takes custody of the money until they are. "There is no time limit on claiming money that is rightfully yours," said Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein.

In the last 25 years, the state has tracked 160,000 accounts worth a total of more than $60 million. Last year, the comptroller returned $5,650,899 to 10,345 people.

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