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Thousands respond to unclaimed property newspaper insert

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 3,700 people responded to a newspaper insert intended to return unclaimed, often forgotten, property and money to the rightful owners, according to State Treasurer John Perdue's office. 

Last month, Perdue's office distributed an unclaimed property insert in 55 newspapers across the state. It generated claims from 3,734 people, compared to 1,836 claims generated by a previous insert in April 2012. The newspaper insert focuses on unclaimed assets that were not previously advertised.

This year's claims also included 2,371 filed electronically, compared to 1,129 electronic claims filed after last year's insert.

"This confirms our belief that outreach works and underscores our commitment to return unclaimed property to the folks who own it," Perdue said in a news release.

Greg Stone, a spokesman for the treasurer's office, said Perdue has returned $115 million in unclaimed property to its owners since January 1997, when he first became West Virginia's Treasurer.

Unclaimed property is any asset that has been lost or misplaced by the original owner, such as: abandoned safe deposit box contents, final paychecks never cashed and or stock dividends not cashed.

Back in December 2003, Xavier Imperiale claimed $630,000 of his own money in uncashed stock dividends.

"Living in a poor neighborhood in Miami," Stone said, "Imperiale had his mail stolen. Checks from stock dividends were diverted to his sister in Mercer County, where they just kept piling up." Imperiale learned about his checks after Perdue's office discovered they were never cashed.

People interested in finding out if they have unclaimed property can visit Perdue's website -- www.wvtreasury.com -- or call 1-800-642-8687.

Perdue's office also runs online auctions on items abandoned in safe deposit boxes, including coins, rings, watches and stamps. Anyone can participate in the auctions by visiting: www.Westvirginaunclaimedproperty.org.

"The treasurer always tries to reach out to folks to let them know about unclaimed property they own," Stone said. "The ads we have run have a proven track record."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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