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South Florida Fishing Boat Captain Reels in a Big One with Unclaimed Property Program

1/23/2007

CONTACT:  Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

FORT LAUDERDALE—For most of his life, Jay Cohen has made a living catching big fish or helping other people catch them.  Today, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink helped the South Florida fishing boat captain reel in a big one when she delivered a check from stock accounts held by Cohen and his sister.  The stocks were reported last August to the Department of Financial Services as abandoned. 
 
The department's Bureau of Unclaimed Property identified Cohen, of Fort Lauderdale, and his sister Leigh, of North Carolina, as the rightful owners and helped them get the money back for free.  Jay Cohen said they do not want to disclose the amount of money, but he was more than happy to meet CFO Sink today on his day off to pick up the check.   They met at the Pier 66 Marina in Fort Lauderdale.
 
"This may be one of the more fun aspects of my job," said Sink, who as CFO oversees the department.  "We are holding more than one-billion dollars' worth of cash and property for Floridians who have lost track of it, and we are eager to return it to the rightful owners."
Jay Cohen operates Captain Jay's Reel Adventure Charters, Inc., out of Miami. The money the Cohens are claiming comes from Manulife Financial Inc. stock the two owned.  The Cohens filed their claim in November after the Bureau contacted them. 
The Bureau is currently holding 7.8 million accounts statewide, including nearly 1.14 million accounts in South Florida.   In Palm Beach County, 231,419 accounts are valued at $82.6 million; in Broward County, 402,273 accounts are valued at more than $125 million; and in Miami-Dade County, 545,601 accounts are valued at more than $188 million.  These accounts can be claimed for free by logging on to www.fltreasurehunt.org or by calling the Bureau at 1-88-VALUABLE.
 
Unclaimed cash and proceeds from the auction of abandoned property go the Florida Public School Trust Fund.  The Bureau has transferred more than $1.5 billion to the school trust fund since the program's inception in 1961. Claims, however, can be made at any time.

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink  oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.