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Foreclosed home explosion: 'I was so moved by that man's level of distress'

Berkeley Brean
Updated: September 10, 2019 07:07 PM
Created: September 10, 2019 07:00 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The News10NBC investigative team showed you how the Rochester man who blew up his foreclosed home last month was entitled to tens of thousands of dollars

After our stories the past two weeks, we were contacted by an expert who says there is all kinds of unclaimed money out there. 

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"I was so moved by that man's level of distress and how distraught he was," Mary Pitman said from her home in Florida. 

We reached Pitman on Skype. She's the author of "The Little Book of Missing Money." The 4th edition is just printing. 

Pitman is a full time nurse, but she says her passion is in the book, helping people find money that belongs to them. When she watched Randal Jackson's story on WHEC.com, she saw him as a person who should have been helped. 

"He's not unique," Pitman said. "And most people don't realize that when their home goes to foreclosure and it sells for more than what they owe, they are due that excess."

The week before Jackson blew up his home on Illinois Street in August, it was sold at auction for $80,700. The lien on the property was $44,427. The law says Jackson was entitled to the difference, $36,453. 

(Note: In previous stories News10NBC reported the lien was approximately $36,000 and Jackson's amount was $44,700. A court filing on Monday, September 9 voiding the auction because of the explosion puts the lien at $44,427.)

Jackson did not know he was entitled to the foreclosure surplus. In fact, it was discovered by Sal Salafia, the real estate agent who bought it. 

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Do you think there are other people going through a situation like that right now?"

Sal Salafia, Salafia Sold Team: "I know that there are. In fact, we have another situation where we know for a fact there was an overage of around $30,000. And until our attorney notified the previous owner that this money was lingering out there, they didn't even know they were entitled to it."

Right now New York State has $16 billion in unclaimed funds controlled by the Office of the State Comptroller. 

According to the Housing Council in Rochester, there were 21,000 foreclosure notices in Monroe County in 2018. Surpluses in mortgage foreclosures stay with the State Supreme Court and have to be claimed by the homeowner. 

"And sometimes that money can be thousands of dollars, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. And people need to know this," Pitman said. 

Jackson's issue was a mortgage foreclosure. 

If there are profits from tax foreclosures, that money stays with the City of Rochester and Monroe County. 

The mayor's office says if there is a profit, it notifies the prior owner in a letter. 

"If any excess funds remain after all liens are satisfied from the proceeds of a foreclosure, the City of Rochester sends a letter to the prior owner of a property. The letter details the process for claiming the funds. The vast majority of foreclosures do not result in excess funds that are available to the prior owner," said Justin Roj, director of communications for Mayor Lovely Warren. 

The county makes the homeowner go through the State Supreme Court to get surplus money released from the county treasury. 

You can find Mary Pitman's book on Amazon Thursday. 


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