Straight cash, homey

A former Jackson resident has recovered the largest sum of unclaimed property ever possessed by the Wyoming State Treasurer’s Office.

The man owned some 16,000 shares of a publicly traded software company that were worth about $420 a piece. In all, he was missing $6.72 million.

Because the company was unable to locate the ex-Teton County resident, per state law, it turned over the unclaimed securities to the state of Wyoming in 2018.

Then this summer, Wyoming’s Unclaimed Property Division found him.

“We know, for sure, this was the largest [sum recovered] ever,” said Jeff Robertson, the Unclaimed Property Division’s communications director.

The next largest sum ever recovered, he said, was in the ballpark of $1.3 million. In the entire previous fiscal year, statewide there were $7.4 million in unclaimed property payments — just 10% more than this single payment.

The Treasurer’s Office did not secure permission to share the identity of the person who went years missing millions’ worth of stock, evidently without knowing it.

Robertson could only say that the person who received the unexpected payday has since moved to an Atlantic seaboard state.

“I really don’t know if this was life changing for them, but I remember, when they discovered how much it was, they said, ‘Yeah, this is definitely something that we need to take care of right away,’ ” Robertson said.

The stock would have been sold and cash held instead in the man’s name come July of 2022. That’s routine business: Every three years the Unclaimed Property Division sells off its unclaimed securities, putting proceeds in an interest-generating fund that allows the office to pay for its own operations and then some.

The $6.72 million was actually the majority of all the unclaimed securities being held by the state. After it was conveyed, the state’s pot of stocks, bonds and securities lacking an owner shrunk to just $3 million.

That being said, the state office is still holding more than $93 million in unclaimed money, which could range from paychecks to gift cards to utility bill credits. All are held by the state in perpetuity.

If unclaimed before the owner’s death, the unclaimed money belongs to their heirs.

Residents can see if their assets are among the missing by going to MyCash.wyo.gov. A search takes seconds.

“The team continues to seek others owed large properties, but the quickest and easiest thing to do is go online and do your own search,” State Treasurer Curt Meier said in a press release. “Most who are owed large amounts have no idea that the state has money for them.”

No amount is too small to claim. The man whose stock broker was wired $6.72 million also had a check in his name worth $14.10. Robertson pointed out that Jackson Hole Daily owner and publisher Kevin Olson got a “nice payment” last year by putting in a claim: $2.87.

As of Monday morning, there was $5.237 million in unclaimed cash and 20,260 shares of unclaimed stock earmarked for current and former residents of Teton County. Those assets are broken up into a grand total of 42,392 “properties” possessed by the state.

“Some of those are only worth a penny,” Robertson said. “The largest property right now is $119,292.”

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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