Surprise! If you get a call from this man, it’s no scam. The state really has money for you.

Every week, the dubious call the state’s Department of Revenue and ask about him. Sometimes they call The Seattle Times, which profiled Marshall in 2011.

Yes, he is for real. No, he’s not running a scam.

If Marshall is trying to reach you, it’s your lucky day. There is money waiting for you.

For 17 years he’s had a one-of-a-kind job with the Department of Revenue: official locator in the unclaimed assets division.

His job is to connect people with long-forgotten bank accounts or safe-deposit boxes, unclaimed life-insurance policies, uncashed checks, customer overpayments and mutual funds.

Marshall has diligently closed 11,000 cases, and returned over $300 million to the rightful owners. That’s right, $300 million.

“Everybody knows somebody,” he says. “You just start searching in broader and broader circles, and you eventually connect.”

And yet, despite Marshall’s skills in tracking down people, the state is holding more unclaimed money than ever.

In 2011, when The Times first profiled Marshall, it was $830 million. Last year, it had grown to $1.3 billion.

Every year, state law requires businesses to review their records to determine whether they hold any funds, securities or other property that has been unclaimed. The amount of unclaimed property jumped after the state had an amnesty program for businesses, in which penalties were waived for failing to report the amounts.

The program ended in ended in October 2017. Now, penalties for companies are 10 percent of the amount of property that’s not reported. On $100,000, that’s a $10,000 hit.

Not a week goes by that Marshall doesn’t track somebody down and hear how much the unexpected money meant to them.

Recently, Katherine Ferguson, 37, of Mount Vernon, Wash., got about $12,000 from life-insurance policies her late mother had taken out.

Ferguson has a young daughter and, she says, suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. She had been living in the Fort Worth, Texas, area in subsidized housing, but had lost that home, she says.

With the $12,000, she bought a used car and moved back to Mount Vernon, “where I’ve lived most of my adult life and know people.”

In the cubicle where Marshall works, there is a 3-by-4-foot bookcase stacked with the paperwork for the past two years of cases, about 1,300 of them. It’s a little surreal to know that adds up to $47.3 million.

As it turns out, many people don’t want to be found and others don’t care, even if it’s a sizable amount.

A former Army intelligence analyst, he uses skills familiar to journalists to track down people owed money.

He has access to services that do background searches — last known address, family members. He uses Facebook, LinkedIn and other social-media sites.

All states have unclaimed property laws, sometimes referred to as the W.C. Fields Law, named after the legendary comic and actor who died in 1946. Afraid of being robbed while he worked in the vaudeville circuit, Fields opened bank accounts in some 700 places. After his death, his heirs spent years contacting banks around the country to locate his assets.

His first year on the job, Marshall returned $1 million worth of unclaimed funds. He got better and better, and the next year he returned $2 million and in recent years, it’s been around $24 million a year.

That $24 million is about one-third of a total $72 million returned in 2018, the rest coming from forms automatically mailed to a person’s last known address or from people going online at ClaimYourCash.org .

Three-quarters of unclaimed property is under $100 and only 5 percent is over $1,000. Still, you could have a bunch of items that add up to an OK sum.

You can also go to Unclaimed.org , run for free by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, and look up other states.

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