Reporting Kurtis Ming
LINCOLN (CBS13) — Johanna Schapp thought a company had found more than $100,000 of unclaimed property in her name — but never expected she might be sued for a portion of it.
“How can they sue me?” she said. “I never got anything.”
Schapp signed a contract with Keane Unclaimed Property saying she wanted them to pursue the money for her. In exchange for locating the money, they’d take a 25 percent cut of the money.
But the company couldn’t access her money without her social security number, and Schapp felt uneasy about handing that over to a company she’d heard very little about — for money she wasn’t sure existed, she said.
“We’re older people and people like to prey on older people,” she said. “I said I will never give any more information until you reveal who it is [holding the money].”
Then legal letters began showing up, and Schapp noticed she was being invoiced for about $34,800 — the money Keane was owed if they’d collected her unclaimed money, she said. And those letters threatened legal action if she didn’t pay or hand over her social security number, she said.
State Controller John Chiang has seen an explosion of companies offering to find unclaimed property for a cut of consumers’ money.
“Suddenly, boom, they’re charging you these excessive fees,” he said.
By law, any money consumers have will eventually make it to the state’s Unclaimed Property program, which consumers can search online.
“We provide the service for free. The taxpayers have already paid for it,” Chiang said.
After CBS13 got involved, Schapp said Keane disclosed her money was from an old workers comp insurance policy from years ago, when she ran a business.
Attorney Jarrett Roth of Keane later told CBS13 Schapp was incorrect; he said Keane disclosed the location of her money shortly after she signed the initial contract, not after CBS13 became involved.
Schapp went forward with the process, collecting more than $83,000, but let the company keep its 25-percent cut.
“Oh, I’m very glad it’s all behind me,” she said.
Unclaimed property in California can be found on the State Controller’s search website. The National Association of State Treasurers also maintains a website where you can search all 50 states for unclaimed property.