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State Sitting On $1.5B In Unclaimed Property

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As of April 2011, the Illinois State Treasurer's office has about $1.5 billion in unclaimed cash and property in a vault in the Illinois State Capitol. (Credit: CBS)

As of April 2011, the Illinois State Treasurer’s office has about $1.5 billion in unclaimed cash and property in a vault in the Illinois State Capitol. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The state of Illinois is sitting on $1.5 billion and it’s just waiting for you or someone you know to claim it.

It’s money owed to millions of people, with no strings attached and no lottery to win. The money is part of the state’s unclaimed cash and property.

How do you get it? CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker has the details on finding you missing money.

A diamond studded watch, a blue sapphire ring, gold coins, collectibles worth thousands of dollars, all stored in the basement of the Illinois State Capitol.

Inside the vault are cabinets full of unclaimed property left behind in safe deposit boxes from more than 7,000 banks in Illinois.

“Looks like we’ve got some dog tags, birth certificates, marriage certificates, these are coins,” said Chris Vespa, an investigator with the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office.

The vault only contains some of the physical property that belongs to thousands of people.

The state also has money; from un-cashed paychecks and unclaimed refunds stocks, bonds, insurance payments and overpayments on utility bills.

“It’s about $1.5 billion that are under my stewardship today under unclaimed properties,” said State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Money that belongs to some 10 million people, including VIP’s like Mike Ditka, Ozzie Guillen, Scottie Pippen, Patti Blagojevich, Mayor Richard M. Daley, and even President Barack Obama. It’s waiting for them; cash or property valued from $30 to $5,000. But that’s nothing!

“About three years ago the largest sum to the lost or unclaimed individual was about a million dollars,” Rutherford said.

The state wants to give you back your money. Twice a year, in local newspapers, you’ll find the names of thousands of people who have cash waiting for them and, periodically, the state sends letters.

“It was very welcoming,” said Bridgeport resident Scott Heinrichs.

Heinrichs had $1,200 sitting unclaimed in an escrow account.

“I owned a house in Chicago about seven years ago and I sold it and it was money that the lawyers, the real estate lawyers put aside to pay back taxes. It was a good surprise,” Heinrichs explained.

Others are pleasantly surprised at community events where state workers search the Illinois State Treasurer’s website for you.

You can do it yourself. Simply sign on to the website, click on the Cash Dash link, and plug in your name and city.

The odds of you finding money for yourself or a relative are really good – about one in eight, according to state officials.

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