Illinois' Big Free Money Giveaway!

Apr 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is a wealthy man. Right now he's sitting on about $1.5 billion that he just can't wait to give you!

OK, there are a few catches, but aren't there always? But here are two good things: It won't cost you any money and you won't have to be on a TV reality show.

The money isn't really Rutherford's. It belongs to the good people of Illinois and it comes from their un-cashed paychecks and unclaimed refunds, stocks, bonds, insurance payments and overpayments on utility bills. According to Illinois law, banks and businesses are required to hand over unclaimed money or property to the state after five years.

Rutherford has set up a website -- catchily called Cash Dash -- where you can enter your name to find out if you are one of those lucky souls. Barack Obama is one! Why not you?

Most of the money is in increments between $30 and $100, but, still, that's nothing to sneeze at when it comes to sort-of free money. Some people are even luckier. "About three years ago the largest sum to the lost or unclaimed individual was about a million dollars," Rutherford told a reporter from WBBM-TV in Chicago. (Which really makes you wonder how someone could displace $1 million. But we digress.)

Rutherford doesn't just have cold cash, either. Deep in the bowels of the Illinois state house is a vault containing the unclaimed contents of safe deposit boxes from 7,000 banks. Maybe that's where your family heirloom went? Only one way to find out...