There’s a poster taped to Neal Duchin’s bulletin board that sums it up best: “Look up for falling money!” it reads. Indeed, Neal, together with his partners Avram Goldstein and Michael Zwick, have created a company that can only be described as beyond out-of-the-box. Meet Assets International, a Michigan-based asset-recovery firm. Never heard of an “asset-recovery firm” before? Join the club!
“One of my kids asked me what I do. I told her that we find money for people. She said, ‘If you find money for other people, why don’t you find some for us?’” quips Neal, as he explains what it is, exactly, that his company does.
“We do three things, and the nature of our business is such that we have to do all three perfectly. First, we need to locate assets that are collectable. Secondly, we’re the matchmakers. We have to figure out who has the legal claim to these assets, find that person, and offer to work with them to collect their money. And lastly, we have to document things beyond the shadow of a doubt to demonstrate that this party, to the exclusion of any other party, has the sole rights to the property so they can claim it.”
Literally billions of dollars in money in the United States are just sitting there, waiting to be given back to their rightful owners. Among other things, this money includes forgotten apartment security deposits; non-cashed, overtime checks and savings bonds; lost insurance refunds, and abandoned safe deposit boxes. Class-action suits are also a rich hunting ground for such money; while most of the time the payouts are measly, there are always those cases where recipients could potentially receive thousands of dollars — if they only could be found!
There are also very large sums of money in more esoteric locations. If Uncle John dies and leaves no will, then his fortune must be responsibly executed by the state, according to the laws that govern that particular state. In many cases, Uncle John’s next of kin will be eligible to receive a tidy amount of money — if he or she can be located, that is.
In fact, according to Avram Goldstein, there are treasurers for over 3,000 counties, tens of thousands of cities, and other municipalities, who have money to distribute to others and have either failed at doing so or have not properly tried to do so. There are also countless agencies and courts on the federal, state, county and municipal levels that hold undistributed money for individuals and businesses. And there are thousands of private corporations, starting but not ending with financial companies, which have in their possession monies for others and are either exempt from relevant laws or flagrantly do not comply with them; instead, they expect rightful owners — or their legal heirs — to approach them to receive their money. “We cast a pretty wide net to find as much of that money as we can,” Goldstein explains.
“We get hung up on a lot when we call people,” Neal Duchin admits. “But then again, there are a lot of people who understand that this is not a scheme or a gimmick. We are a reputable company — we invite clients to visit our website or come down to our offices. If the case is big enough we might even go and meet with them in their own location. We ask for no money from them in advance. They have absolutely nothing to lose — this is money they never even knew about.”