State in possession of unclaimed millions of dollars and goods; find out if any of it belongs to you

Posted at 10:09 PM, May 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-12 00:16:22-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The state of Utah has nearly $400 million in cash and goods and it's trying to give it away.

Some of the money could be yours.

A program run by the Utah State Treasurer’s Office works to find the rightful owners of the unclaimed property. As a bank for state agencies, the treasurer’s office manages the unclaimed property, which currently totals about $380 million.

“It's such a fun part of the job,” said Richard Ellis, Utah State Treasurer. “You don't often get to say, ‘we're from the government and we're here to give you money.’”

Ellis said the unclaimed cash could be in the form of a savings account that a grandmother opened for her grandchildren that nobody knew or forgot about.

“It could be a lost retirement account, an IRA or something, you moved you forgot about, that deposit when you were a college student that you had to make with Utah Power at the time,” Ellis said.

Ellis said the treasurer’s office is using social media to help get the word out about the unclaimed funds.

“For a lot of years we printed a big insert that went into the paper in the fall and it was 40 pages long in six-point font that nobody could read -- but people aren't using the newspaper like they used to so we've tried new ways of reaching out,” Ellis said.

When you go to the website,, you can plug in your name as well as the names of friends and family.

The average payout is a few hundred dollars but there was one claim of $600,000.

Some of the unclaimed property also comes in the form of safety deposit boxes. If a bank tries to track down the owner of a safety deposit box and after five years still can't find one, the contents go to the state treasurer.

If an owner still can’t be found the goods are placed in an online auction. Proceeds from the auction go to the state's public education fund for students.

“We find a lot of coin collections in there, gold, silver coins, jewelry,” Ellis said.

Recent arrivals include jewelry, silver spoons, along with pre-Columbian art.

“We just had some silver ingots that sold a week or two ago. $1,500 a bar roughly,” Ellis said.

The treasurer’s office sees a lot of silver dollars, jewels and gold from Canada and China. There was also a 112-pound rock discovered in a safety deposit box more than 20 years ago.

The staff at the treasurer's office has found one man's medals from various sporting events along with the owner's obituary. They're now trying to track down his relatives.

The treasurer’s office staff successfully returned lost property to Greg Heuser.

Former disc jockey and host of "Breakfast with the Beatles," Heuser is an avid collector of all things Fab Four. About the time girls were screaming with every bob of a Beatles head, a 1964 set of bobblehead dolls came along.

Years later Heuser got a set as a birthday gift. He put them in a safety deposit box and paid for the first year but never received another bill.

When Heuser went to get them a few years later, there was no record of him having a box.

“They just kind of went into oblivion. I actually thought I'd never see them again,” he said. “With the unclaimed property, the state of Utah contacted us and let us know that they had these dolls and we were quite excited about that. It was just a great thing to be able to be reunited with the Fab Four in my case."

Want to know if you have unclaimed property? Find the Utah State Treasurer's Office on Facebook and Twitter @UtahUnclaimProp.