Houston faces unclaimed money scandal! Like many other major cities in the U.S, the unclaimed money menace has also gripped the city of Houston. The office of the Controller is attempting to return almost $410,000 to the actual owners of these unclaimed funds. This unclaimed money belongs to the residents and business owners of Houston who have failed to make a claim to their unclaimed money.
These unclaimed funds might be attributed to a utility deposit, a payroll check, abandoned bank account or pension fund. More than ten thousand names are on the list. Each individual or company is owed $100 or less. In accordance with State Law, any amount over $100 dollars is sent to the State Comptroller where it is held until claimed.
While the state is trying its best in returning the unclaimed money to its rightful owners, there are many unscrupulous persons who are utilizing unfair means to swindle the unclaimed money which belongs to others. In a recent report, two Houston women have been indicted on federal fraud charges, accused of assuming the identity of unsuspecting victims who were owed unclaimed funds from several government agencies.
U.S. postal inspectors said the women found names of people who were owed unclaimed property, which are commonly found on government websites nationwide, and then used phony driver’s licenses to assume those victims’ identities and collect the refund checks. Roxann Michelle Thomas, 30, and Tawana Renelda Scott, 39, are each charged with mail fraud, with arraignment set in Houston federal court next week.
The pile of unclaimed funds is increasing at a rapid pace in the city of Houston, and according to the the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, one in four Texans is owed unclaimed funds, amounting to $2.2 billion. An online database lists the names of people and companies who are owed money from old bank accounts, uncashed checks, utility refunds and security deposits.
According to the law of the Land, any unclaimed funds have to be reported to the special state fund, and then citizens can file claims by filling out forms and sending in proof that they are the person who is owed that money.
In an email to Local 2 Investigates, R. J. DeSilva, with the Texas Comptroller’s office wrote that, “We ask applicants to send in copies of driver’s license, social security cards, and proof of business dealings on the unclaimed property. We also use databases to verify information.”