5 On Your Side

Recipient of missing money plans to pay it forward

Posted April 27, 2009 4:36 p.m. EDT
Updated April 27, 2009 6:30 p.m. EDT

— Gary Zuckerman is among approximately 1 million North Carolinians who owns a portion of about $700 million in unclaimed property held by the Department of the State Treasurer.

Most of the missing money comes from forgotten accounts and refunds with banks, insurance companies and doctors who couldn't find its rightful owners.

Zuckerman plans that his missing money will end up with They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, a book about the war in Sudan that had a great impact on him.

"It was a very intense book. It's written by three boys who crossed the Sahara fleeing basically the war in Sudan," Zuckerman said.

A call from 5 on Your Side about the missing money came as a complete surprise to Zuckerman.

"When I got the call, you said you were researching a story and my name was on a list, I thought, 'What did I do?'" he said. "But when you said I was entitled to some money, I thought, 'Wow, that's nice.'"

Zuckerman's windfall is $612 from a stock sale that happened about 10 years ago.

"I think something got criss-crossed in the mail where the company that I had stock in issued basically cash, and apparently there was a form that needed to be filled out, and it got criss-crossed in the mail, so the state took it," he said.

Zuckerman said that since he didn't know he had the money coming, he will send it to a charity associated with the book.

"It could have a huge impact on the people that live in their little village," he said. "That would feel like spending on myself to be honest. I didn't know it existed, and if I could put it to good use to help these people, that would be very rewarding."

That makes the total of missing money found by 5 on Your Side nearly $263,904.

You can check for unclaimed money in-state or nationally. You can also call North Carolina's Office of Unclaimed Property at 919-508-1000.