Norman Perry was recently convicted of aggravated identity theft and sentenced to 90 months in prison. Perry’s scheme is startlingly simple and stands as a good lesson to all of us. He took out advertisements in which he promised, for a fee, to find lost and unclaimed funds for people. Each state has an unclaimed property program where abandoned or lost funds such as unclaimed security deposits, dividends or bank accounts are turned over to the state by businesses holding these funds. Perry represented that he had unique skills in finding these funds for people and retrieving the funds for his clients/victims. He informed his victims that in order to retrieve the funds on their behalf, he would need their names, Social Security numbers and addresses. In fact, this information is required in order to retrieve funds through unclaimed property programs. However, Perry had no intention of finding abandoned funds on behalf of his clients. He took the personal information his victims provided to him and filed phony income tax returns on their behalf and received $135,743 in refunds from the IRS.
There are companies that do the services Perry claimed to do, but there is absolutely no need to pay anyone to do this for you because you can do the same search for unclaimed property yourself at no cost. There is no reason to provide your personal information to anyone in order to find unclaimed or abandoned property. Here is a link to the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. All you need to do is to click on the state where you wish to see if any property is being held on your behalf and you will be directed to the program for your particular state. The process is simple and has no cost. http://www.naupa.org/
The lesson of Norman Perry’s crime is a simple one. Never provide personal information, particularly your Social Security number to anyone unless you are absolutely sure that they are honest and have a need for your information.