Danville resident Marilou Barnett hopes to hit the jackpot — sort of. 

While she wasn't at the Charles H. Harris Financial Service Center to play the lottery, she did stop by the treasurer's office to find out if there was any mysterious money owed to her. 

"It would be nice knowing around the holidays that something's coming," Barnett said while waiting in line just outside a room on the building's second floor.  

There, representatives with the Virginia Department of the Treasury's Division of Unclaimed Property checked people's records to find out if they were owed any money. 

That property could include money from utility deposits, unpaid wages, security investments, insurance policies and other items, said Danville City Treasurer Sheila Williamson-Branch. Other sources could be bank accounts and tangible property.

"The reason they may not have received those funds is because they don't have a valid contact number or address, so they have to send that money to the state," Williamson-Branch said Wednesday afternoon. 

Under Virginia law, money in dormant financial accounts must be turned over to the state government, which holds them in trust. Such accounts can include a company that sent a check but was never cashed, or a loved one who died with money they never collected. 

The state treasury's unclaimed property program is a consumer protection initiative to help residents, so there is no commission or fee charged. 

"It's a good service," Williamson-Branch said. "A lot of people don't take advantage of it."

As for Barnett, she wants to see if any money was owed to her late mother. 

"I'm the last survivor," Barnett said.

In a small room on the building's second floor, division representatives Kayleigh T. Rosenthal and Ashlie Evans talked to residents, asking them questions to check records and see if there was any owed money. 

As of around 3 p.m. Wednesday, they had seen 51 people. Twenty-eight of them were owed money — a total of about $10,100 so far. 

"It looks like you co-owned savings accounts," she said to one person seeking funds. 

In 2018-19, the state paid out roughly $87.1 million in unclaimed money. Since 1961, about $847 million has been doled out. 

Another Danville resident, Gregory Holmes, said he had property owed to him. He had checked a few years ago but never acted on it. Now is his chance, he said. 

"I'm following up to actually get it," he said while waiting in line.  

Division representatives will be at the Charles H. Harris Financial Service Center at 311 Memorial Drive again from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday. 

Those wanting to see if they are owed unclaimed funds can visit www.vamoneysearch.org.     

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Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

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