A New York resident has been sentenced in federal court to 13 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution after he reportedly faked the identities of a least three Floridians in order to collect nearly $100,000 in abandoned cash being held by the state.
The sentence follows a joint investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services, Office of Fiscal Integrity and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Edwin Jacquet, 31, of Brooklyn, New York, reportedly falsified drivers’ license information and social security cards of a Florida couple in order to collect nearly $100,000. Jacquet allegedly targeted the individuals whose identity he falsified by searching state records of Floridians whose unclaimed property is being held by the state. Jacquet submitted the false information in a claim form by mail to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Unclaimed Property. He also reportedly attempted to collect an additional $97,000 by submitting another fraudulent claim form with the personal information of a third Florida resident.
Jacquet pleaded guilty in March 2003 to four counts of mail fraud. All three Floridians have since received their unclaimed cash from the state.
The Bureau of Unclaimed property holds cash or property that has been lost or abandoned by Floridians.
Last year, nearly $160 million was turned over to the state as unclaimed property and more than $73 million was returned back to the rightful owners or heirs. The department’s Unclaimed Property program is currently holding almost $900 million in unclaimed property. Unclaimed cash is deposited into a state school fund and is used exclusively for public education. Property is auctioned annually with the proceeds going to benefit public schools.
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