‘Call me Lucky Penny’ says Penny Martin, homeless woman who discovered $10K unclaimed funds state owed her

Another Unclaimed Funds Success Story

‘Call me Lucky Penny’ says Penny Martin, homeless woman who discovered unclaimed $10K state owed her
BY MATTHEW LYSIAK
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, October 21st 2010, 9:03 PM

Penny Martin got a nice surprise: $10,000 that she hadn’t claimed.  Millions of people have cash sitting in abandoned accounts – but none were as happy to get it as Penny Martin.  The Staten Island woman was living in a homeless shelter when she learned about a 25-year-old check for $10,000 owed to her from a boyfriend’s life insurance policy.

Penny Martin Photo
“Call me Lucky Penny,” Martin, 46, said yesterday as she joined state officials in urging New Yorkers to check whether they’re due unclaimed funds. “I was homeless and I just got a new furnished apartment. “It changed my life,” she said of the windfall.  “I was really down on my luck and this money is such a godsend. I’m blessed.”

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Last year, the nursing home worker lost her apartment and was living in an upper West Side shelter, worrying about her next meal. She came across the phone number for the state controller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds and discovered last November that her boyfriend left her money when he died in 1985.

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After Martin didn’t claim the cash, the check ended up in the state-guarded account – where it sat with $10 billion in other people’s unclaimed funds.  By the time she got the $10,000 check, Martin had moved out of the shelter and into an apartment – and the money came in handy.  She used it to pay bills and buy some furniture.  “Sofa, love seat, you name it,” she said, beaming.

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There are over 25 million unclaimed accounts dating back to 1943 that are waiting for their rightful owner, according to New York State Controller Thomas DiNapoli.
“So many New Yorkers have money waiting for them and don’t even know it,” DiNapoli said. “It’s your money. We want to return it. We want to have more celebrations like this.”

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