The 50 Who Got Nothing

Posted October 3rd, 2007 by Joe Kaiser

What about the 50 who never showed up to claim their funds? Are they better off, too?

Dear Rob,

The information I requested last week from county treasurers under the Public Records Act is beginning to trickle in.

So far, with less than a quarter of the counties reporting, we’re up to about 50 overages that went unclaimed and were irrevocably transferred to county treasurers.


A little low

That’s about where I’d guessed we’d be, maybe a little low (but close enough at this stage). A lot of the bigger counties have yet to provide any information, so perhaps they will bump it up a bit.

Now, I’m wondering if it’s beginning to sink in?

To date, 50 instances of counties receiving windfalls, essentially free money, simply because the rightful owners of those funds failed to claim them.

Upon Application

Your office alleges that the people with whom I did do business would have been better off had I never contacted them . . .

. . . their real intent was to let the property go to auction and take any excess proceeds from the sale – money that would have gone to the property owner if the defendants hadn’t ‘helped’ them.— AG Robert M. McKenna
March 14th, 2007 AG press release

What about the 50 who never showed up to claim their funds? Are they better off, too, with me not having “helped?”

forever lost

When I work an overage play with someone who’s long since walked away, he’s guaranteed a profit.

To make that happen, I had to find him. Had I not, there’s a real possibility he’s now #51 on my list of folks who never knew their overage funds existed and never showed up to claim them.

Instead, his funds are forever lost to the county.

Questions and more questions

So, my questions . . .

How can you possibly know who’s going to show up and who isn’t?

And in light of that, my follow-up questions . . .

How can you say folks who sold me their properties would have been better off had they not?

Or is your office willing to (1) guarantee an overage will be created and if so, will you also (2) guarantee county treasurers will do whatever it takes to find them to (3) guarnantee they’ll let them know their funds are waiting to be picked up?

My PRA request info would seem to indicate, no, no, and no, respectively.

Which brings us to my last questions . . .

Rob, of the 50 folks whose funds went unclaimed, do you suppose selling their properties to me would have been a better solution than the $0.00 they ultimately received when the overage clock ran out?

Or, was the alternative (not selling to me) simply a better solution for the county?

The unfound

Windfall profits land in the laps of counties when rightful owners of overage funds don’t know they exist and fail to claim them. So far, my list is up to 50.

Since I track down these kinds of owners and buy their properties, unclaimed overage funds in their situations can’t happen, making it more and more difficult to grow that list to 51 folks who didn’t get their funds.

And more to the point, 51 instances where the county, did.

This is a turf war.

Joe Kaiser

8 Responses to: “The 50 Who Got Nothing”

  1. anemonehead responds:
    Posted: October 4th, 2007 at 1:16 am

    I’m curious to know how much those 50 unclaimed overages added up to.

  2. spyboy responds:
    Posted: October 4th, 2007 at 8:38 am


    I’m curious to know in how many of those 50 instances the Counties actually followed the statutory mandate as to attempting to contact the “rightful owners” of those funds, post sale, prior to the Counties claiming ownership. I would think that might be info. that is available through public records.

    Thank You.

  3. Jason responds:
    Posted: October 4th, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Me too anemonehead,
    Would love to know how these funds add up per county!

    What interests me more, is how this “income” was recorded on the books of each individual county!
    If the books don’t check out…… Have I mentioned that I would check Bob Dicks freezer? : 0
    Jason “the rat sniffer”

  4. Joe Kaiser responds:
    Posted: October 4th, 2007 at 3:48 pm


    There’s no concern (yes, literally zero) that anything inappropriate is taking place at the county level in terms of overage funds being misapplied.

    Let’s not go there.

    The funds all go to the county expense funds, as prescribed by the applicable law, RCW 84.64.080

    My contention is simply that the system we explicitly designed to faciliate the escheatment of tax sale overage funds, and that my intercepting funds that might have otherwise landed in county coffers is at the root of this investigation/bogus lawsuit.

    Operation: Who’s Escheating Who is to document the scope of the escheatment phenomenon so we’re all clear what is at stake here and why former AAG Cheryl Kringle describing it as inconsequential is entirely inaccurate.

    So far, by my count, some 50 people didn’t get the money they should have, and counties got 50 overages as a result. I maintain 50 is not inconsequential, nor, certainly, to the individuals who did not get their money, is any dollar amount lost.


  5. Vlad responds:
    Posted: October 5th, 2007 at 8:37 am

    “Former Duke lacrosse players sue Nifong, city”

    I just can’t believe those falsely accused guys would go to such extent :-)…

  6. Joe Kaiser responds:
    Posted: October 5th, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Oooooo, that will leave a mark, Vlad.

  7. Davido responds:
    Posted: October 7th, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Joe, how many years are the 50+ overages from?

  8. Joe Kaiser responds:
    Posted: October 7th, 2007 at 9:39 am


    I’ve found that 6 to 10 years, typically, is how long their records are retained.

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