State owed $160K to local businessman

Jun 5, 2008

The Gainesville Sun–June 4, 2008

By Anthony Clark
Sun business editor

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink personally delivered a check for $159,403.19 to Gainesville homebuilder G.W. Robinson on Tuesday to raise awareness about unclaimed property.

The state is holding $1.5 billion in 8 million unclaimed property accounts, mostly from dormant securities such as bank accounts, insurance proceeds, stocks, dividends, deposits, credit balances and refunds.

They are redeemable at any time by the named individuals or their survivors. In the meantime, the unclaimed funds and earned interest go into Florida public education.

The state attempts to reach all new accounts one time by letter.

At the office of G.W. Robinson Builders Inc., Robinson said the returned money comes from a startup bank he invested in about 20 years ago. The bank has since been purchased twice. "Somewhere in there the money got misplaced," he said.

"It grew up to about five times what I paid for it," Robinson said. "Probably I’ll put it back in the business right now."

Sink encouraged the public to check the Web site or call 1-88-VALUABLE (888-258-2253) to check for their names.

"Look up not only your name and any name you’ve ever used, but very importantly put in the names of your deceased relatives because we’re holding accounts all the way back to (1961) and you might be the inheritor of money that your grandparents or other relatives might have left behind," she said.

Sink said the largest amount during her year-and-a-half in office was $500,000 each returned to a Fort Lauderdale man and his sister in North Carolina from a life insurance policy their grandfather had taken out. A couple months ago, she said they returned a Purple Heart to the family of a Vietnam War veteran.

The unclaimed property includes contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes, which are auctioned off each year.

Walter Graham, chief of unclaimed property, said 88 percent of accounts are worth $250 or less.

Sink said the bureau checked her husband’s name and found a $65 deposit on an apartment when he was a student at the University of Florida in 1967.

The bureau has 82,582 unclaimed accounts in Alachua County worth $9.2 million.

"There must be some of you out there that’s got some unexpected money due to you, so you really need to look it up and see if your name is on the Internet," Robinson said.