State Treasurer Eric Schmitt issues Unclaimed Property scam alert
Thursday, May 4, 2017
JEFFERSON CITY - Today, Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt issued a scam alert, warning citizens of potential improper conduct relating to the state’s Unclaimed Property program.
The scam revolves around an individual who submitted claims in other people’s names, possibly after entering into agreements to pursue Unclaimed Property on their behalves. The individual in question contracted such services for fees substantially higher than the law allows and without first being registered with the State Treasurer’s Office as required.
In submitting these claims, this person directed checks be sent to his personal P.O. Box address. Upon receiving the checks, he kept a significantly higher percentage of the money than allowed by law. The State Treasurer’s Office has reason to believe the victims may not be aware of the true nature or size of their potential claims, or even that claims were submitted in their names at all.
The individual was successful in this scam beginning as early as December 2015 and as recently as December 2016, until being caught by Treasurer Schmitt and his team soon after he took office. Internal controls were immediately strengthened to ensure they could not be successful again and to flag anyone else who might attempt a similar scheme in the future.
“Upon discovering this scam that had been perpetrated against the previous administration, our office immediately put additional preventative measures in place, contacted law enforcement, and shared the information with the State Auditor's Office,“ said Schmitt. “I’ve made it a top priority to protect our account owners against this type of conduct.”
The State Treasurer’s Office is withholding the name of the individual in question at this time so as not to interfere with or hamper ongoing investigations. Claimants who interacted with this person have been contacted and informed of the situation in detail.
Treasurer Schmitt encourages anyone approached by a person offering help in returning Unclaimed Property for a fee to contact the Unclaimed Property Division of the State Treasurer’s Office at 573-751-0123 to verify they are a registered heir finder and to confirm legitimate terms of service.
Account owners are never required to pay for the return of Unclaimed Property. If an individual is entitled to assets held by the Unclaimed Property Division they may contact the office at the telephone number listed above or visit www.ShowMeMoney.com to submit a claim.