Show Me the Money

One billion dollars — that’s “b” like bonanza — just waiting for someone to claim it. Odds are, there is money for you in the state’s unclaimed funds. Tonight, Patrick Fraser looks at police departments that have money coming, and shows you how you can say, “Show Me the Money.”

I first walked into the vault in 1996. The State of Florida’s forfeiture room is filled with unclaimed cash, jewelry…

Patrick Fraser: “Here is a diamond ring that was so big they had to demount it to have it appraised. Turns out it’s nine carats.”

Antiquities.

Patrick Fraser: “Beautiful stuff that somebody left in a safety deposit box.”

At that time, the money in the Florida Treasure Hunt was $400 million. Today, there is $1 billion in here, waiting for you to claim it.

Official: “It’s interesting. Your chances of winning here are a lot more than your chances of winning the lottery.”

Over the years, we have checked in on the state’s unclaimed property fund, helping thousands of people get money they didn’t know they had, or jewels a relative left for them in a safety deposit box.

We recently found money for several cities. We have helped schools collect a few dollars. And now, we’re gonna help the cops cash in.

Dave LaFont, president, Fraternal Order of Police, West Palm Beach: “Well, thank you for finding it.”

Take a look at the departments that have money waiting for them. Miami Police have nearly $9,000 ($8,946.35). Miami Beach, more than $12,000 ($12,490.00) just sitting there. A Palm Beach group has $5,000 waiting for them.

Dave LaFont: “I couldn’t find it even though you did, and I actually had to call you back and ask how you searched it, and eventually I was able to find our associate lodge.”

Dave suspects the money belonged to prior lodge members.

Dave LaFont: “When they had an election — and they could have had a new turnover in management  — and it got lost in the translation.”

Now that we told them about it, the money can help a new generation of officers.

Dave LaFont: “And we like to donate money to our officers if they’re in need or their families. We have scholarships we hand out.”

As we moved through the website, a lot of police agencies are owed $50, $100.

Jupiter Police can pick up $10,000, and in Broward County, Miramar Police and their union are owed nearly $2,500 dollars.

Gilberto Bueno, Miramar Police and Police Benevolent Association: “It’s always good news to hear there’s some funds out there and you’re the rightful owner, which is fantastic.”

Look at the money owed to the Hispanic Police Officers Association on Miami Beach. One account after another — $345, $365, $375, $390 — totaling $11,440.00.

They told us they know about it, but haven’t gotten around to collecting it.

Thomas Bradford, city manager, Town of Palm Beach: “Your call precipitated us to look into it, so thank you, and we appreciate it.”

The officers working for Palm Beach, the third richest city in Florida, are about to get a little wealthier. They are owed $10,000.

Thomas Bradford: “It was rare to get news that you might have some money laying around somewhere, so it was surprise that you called.”

The list of South Florida cities goes on and on: Oakland Park, Coral Springs, Aventura. We discovered South Florida cops are owed nearly $53,000 in cash.

Thomas Bradford: “Thank you, and we appreciate it.”

Gilberto Bueno: “Thank you. We appreciate it very much.”

Those are police departments. And there is more for you to collect. As of today, hundreds of thousands of dollars in South Florida cash to pick up, or precious items left by a relative, in that billion-dollar treasure chest.

When Dave LaFont found out, he did what all of us will now do.

Dave LaFont: “I know I checked my name and my spouse’s name and just about anybody who’s close to me to see if they had anything lingering.”

Check to see if your name is there to cash in. Check to see if a family member’s name is there, so you can tell them, “Show me the money.” I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

To see if you have money, go to www.fltreasurehunt.org.

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