Long-forgotten fortunes may turn up at The Mall


People who have always thought they should have inherited $100 or so from a long-lost friend or relative can claim their treasures tomorrow at The Mall in Columbia.

Representatives from the state comptroller's office are checking computerized property files of more than 215,000 accounts worth about $62 million statewide to see whether shoppers are the rightful owners or heirs of unclaimed money, Assistant Comptroller Marvin Bond said.

The funds include inactive bank accounts, unclaimed wages, security deposits, bonds, insurance benefits and contents of safe deposit boxes that have been turned over to the state. A booth will be open from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. near Woodward & Lothrop on the lower level of the mall. People making claims should bring identification and any notice they have received regarding their rights to funds.

More than $8 million was returned to about 12,000 people last year, Mr. Bond said. Two of the largest accounts claimed last year were worth about $200,000 each. The average claim was about $675, Mr. Bond said.

"There are a surprising number of cases where there are accounts out there that people never knew about, like passbooks of relatives that have passed away or insurance policies that nobody in a family knew about," Mr. Bond said. "One in 10 people will find something, whether it's a lead for a neighbor or cash left from a grandparent's account. Most have some money to claim."

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