Long Beach alderman helping others find unclaimed money

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of Long Beach residents have received hundreds, even thousands of dollars for doing absolutely nothing. It sounds too good to be true, but it's not.

Owner of Claws and Paws in Long Beach, Valerie Thomas, got a call saying she had $400 waiting for her.

"I really wasn't sure if it was a trick or not," Thomas said. "Nothing is free. It usually comes with something."

But it was not too good to be true. While it wasn't actually free money, it was unclaimed money that has been sitting in the state treasury for years.

"My husband got laid off from Memorial Hospital about a year ago, so, hey, every little bit helps," Thomas said.

Another Long Beach business, Arbor Station Apartments, had nearly $6,000 unclaimed.

Property Manager Janelle Santinelli said, "I had gotten the check in the office and I received it and said, 'I wonder what this is for?'"

She said between nine and 11 current and former residents also received money.

All together dozens of Long Beach businesses and residents have received thousands of dollars back, all thanks to Alderman Gary Ponthieux. He contacted the State Treasurer's office, got a list of unclaimed money, and has been tracking down those on the list.

"We really enjoyed calling people up and knocking on their doors and saying, 'Hey we got some money for you,'" Ponthieux said. "All we have to do is give them the property id number and the rest is history."

Ponthieux said he has gotten all sorts of reactions from people.

"One of the funniest ones was, 'Okay, where's the camera? Who's filming this?' Because they are not believing I'm actually there to give them money I located for them," Ponthieux said.

One man he contacted had $12,000 of unclaimed money. Ponthieux said he plans to continue on with his mission to scratch names off the list.

"One day you may get a knock on the door from me."

Ponthieux said some names on the list are misspelled, one even had the last name and the first name mixed up and many of the address are out dated, which is why the money has not yet been returned.

To find out if you have any unclaimed money, just search for your name or business here: http://www.treasury.state.ms.us/Unclaimed/

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