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State Treasurer John Perdue is warning state residents not to be fooled by a scam in which someone reports to be from a national unclaimed property organization, soliciting fees in return for unclaimed funds.

Shirley Gibson of Madison, Boone County, called the Treasurer’s Office recently, saying someone purporting to represent the National Association for Unclaimed Property Administrators had contacted her, asking for $2,250 in cash, in return for $750,000 in unclaimed property. Unclaimed property is any financial asset from which an individual has become separated, excluding real estate.

“Do not be taken in by this scam,” Treasurer Perdue said. “There is never a need for anyone in West Virginia to pay a third party to search for or recover unclaimed property. Not everyone asking for money in return for finding your unclaimed property is a scammer but putting forth funds for that service is always unnecessary. That’s why this office’s Unclaimed Property Division exists – to provide free, legitimate service for rightful owners who need reunited with their assets.”

Gibson said someone saying he was from the “Federal Commission Bureau License Protection Agency” contacted her first, then referred her to a Rachel Whitman of NAUPA, based in Boston. The actual NAUPA headquarters are in Lexington, Ky.

The impostor asked her to send $2,250 to one of two addresses, in Rosedale, N.Y. and Pembroke Pines, Fla.

The method of payment was also fishy, she said – the woman wanted her to enclose the cash in a TV Guide or puzzle book, with bills slipped inside the pages. The magazine was then to be placed in a manila envelope with bubble wrap inside.

“That’s when my husband said, ‘That’s a scam,’ “ Gibson said in a phone interview. The woman called back the next morning, still wanting her money, Gibson added.

Attempts to run this same scam have occurred in Maine, according to a NAUPA release from February. Maine’s Treasurer reiterated the same message, emphasizing that no one should ever pay for any service associated with unclaimed property.

The Treasury does not collect state taxes. Visit the The West Virginia State Tax Department for assistance.

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