AUGUSTA — Massachusetts scammers are sending Mainers letters stating they have unclaimed property or sweepstakes winnings that look real because they are marked as coming from the “Office of the State Treasurer” or the “National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators,” a state official warned Friday.

“These letters, being mailed from out of state, are not from the State Treasurer or any reputable Unclaimed Property organization,” Maine Treasurer Terry Hayes said. “They are fraudulent. It’s unfortunate that this entity is seeking to exploit our state’s unclaimed property program. I recommend that people who receive this notice do not respond in any way.”

The letters have a Massachusetts address and claim to be from a prominent national unclaimed property organization, with a promise to return unclaimed property from a sweepstakes prize to rightful owners, she said.

Hayes also stressed it’s a red flag if someone asks for money to search for or file a claim for unclaimed property.

“My office has been made aware of several websites that seek to collect fees to search for properties,” Hayes said. “There is no need to pay a fee to search for or to file a claim for property.”

The state offers a free online service service to check the state’s official Unclaimed Property List, Maine.gov/upsearch, that also can be used to make claims property, Hayes added. A national search can be done at the Missing Money website, missingmoney.com, which allows people to search all participating states to find a family’s missing, lost and unclaimed property, money and assets, he said.

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The Office of the State Treasurer and Maine State Legislators do use the mail to notify owners of unclaimed property. Those letters are mailed from the Maine State Treasurer and will have an Augusta, Maine, return address. Letters also will direct owners to an official State of Maine website at maine.gov; they will advertise the treasurer’s local phone number, 207-624-7470; and they will bear the official seal of the state of Maine and the signature of the treasurer.

Unclaimed property consists of cash and other financial assets that are considered lost or abandoned when an owner cannot be located after a specified period of time. It includes, among other items, checking accounts, certificates of deposit, over payments, gift certificates, life insurance policies, unpaid wages, uncashed checks, death benefits, dividends, insurance payments, refunds, savings accounts, stocks and contents of safe deposit boxes.

Unclaimed property does not include real estate, animals or vehicles.

The Office of the Maine State Treasurer is holding $225 million worth of property that belongs to Mainers.


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