Money finder surprises Castro Valley woman with unclaimed cash

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Bay Area woman received a surprise call from a total stranger telling her she had money waiting for her. Wisely, this woman was skeptical.

It ended, however, with this woman in tears. We're glad to report, these were happy tears.

Julie Courtney has been a Bay Area real estate agent for more than 15 years.

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Ten years ago, she specialized in selling foreclosed homes for First Federal Bank of California.

"In listing the bank owned homes, you have to put a lot of your own money out. For example fixing them, painting, flooring," Julie explained.

She submitted some $58,000 in expenses.

Five days later, the FDIC shut down her bank, along with others like Washington Mutual, Downey and Pomona First Federal.

"One West Bank came in and took over for Federal Bank of California. Well they said, 'We don't owe you that money. That's First Federal Banks' debt.'"

Julie filed a claim with the FDIC, but never heard back.

She wrote the money off as a loss.

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Then 10 years later, she received an unexpected call.

"'Hi, there,' he said. 'Did you file a claim in 2009 against the FDIC.' I said yes, keep talking. "

The caller then referred Julie to the FDIC's website.

He asked her to type in her name and the name of the failed bank.

"Sure enough, it's not there because they mailed me my check. But it's my name, my reference number," she said.

Julie received a call from someone known as a fund finder -- an entrepreneurial person who finds people who are due money. He told her he worked on the honor system, but if she received any money back, to give him a tip of 10 percent.

Her next step was to call the FDIC to find out how much money she really had coming, if any.

"She said you have a check here for $58,000 and my jaw just dropped. I couldn't believe it. It's pretty amazing," said Julie.

We were there when Julie called the fund finder back to tell him the good news.

"I have to say I thought the whole thing was a scam. I didn't think there was anything to it."

"Oh, I'm going to cry. So I said I had no problem paying you your 10 percent so I definitely want to pay you your 10 percent, so I wanted to call and try to make your day."

The fund finder declined to speak with us, saying he didn't want any publicity.

Julie has sent him a check for $5,800.

"It's an amazing service and it's a great opportunity. More people should do it, Julie said."

If you ever get a call like this, be careful. Look up the phone numbers yourself and double check the websites you're referred to and make sure they are what they purport to be. Some scammers send money to unsuspecting victims and convinced them to send back money. Days later, the victim learns the check they received had bounced.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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