For unclaimed cash, try, not

Pennsylvania cracks down on an unclaimed-money site that was misleading consumers.

By Farhad Manjoo
Published April 5, 2008 12:26AM (UTC)
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There's money out there with your name on it. Billions of dollars in banks, retirement plans, investment accounts, everywhere -- it's all unclaimed, and some of it could be yours.

Sounds appealing, doesn't it? Well, be wary of such pitches. While you may indeed be entitled to some unclaimed property, shady firms may also be on feeding your hope for unaccounted-for millions. Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania's attorney general, says that one of these scam sites is

Corbett is suing the site for telling people that they may have some money coming to them; the site only gives out a bit of information for free, then charges $24.95 for the data you need to claim your money.

Trouble is, according to Corbett, the site tells everyone that they have money coming to them. The Associated Press reports that investigators tried Batman, Spiderman, and Wile E. Coyote in's search engine -- and, ding!, the site said they were all entitled to some dough.

I just tried it out with Lone Ranger, and the site told me that if Mr. Ranger pays $25, he too will find riches. My own name also returned hits suggesting unclaimed riches.

How can you be sure that you really do have money coming to you? Unclaimed property administrators across the nation have set up an official Web site where you can check: This site is free.

Alas, when I plugged my name into, I got this sad message: "No records were found."

But then I tried Wile E. Coyote and, no kidding, it turns out that there's a fellow in Houston who goes by that name who's goy a few bucks coming to him. It's less than $100, but that should be enough to get something from the ACME catalog.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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