State Treasurer Clint Zweifel says people looking for a little extra cash to cover gas or groceries might want to check the state’s unclaimed property website. In some cases, the money might go a lot further.

In a payout that sounds more like the winnings on a lottery ticket, a Springfield resident just collected $300,000 from the unclaimed property program.

“This account was actually a combination of many accounts that were being held in trust. But you know, we still have 30 claims actually throughout the state that are worth in excess of $100,000 each, to be returned,” Zweifel said.

Zweifel says, of course, most claims are much smaller than that. But the average unclaimed account has a value of about $365; and one in ten Missourians has a claim to an account. Zweifel says starting the process is as simple as searching the online database to see if you or a family member’s name comes up with an account.

“We’re making this process paperless, which I think will help us increase the number of small returns… So people think, “Hey, it’s worth my time if I can do this process online,” Zweifel said.

While many of the accounts are real money from things like old insurance policies or lost escrow accounts; people can also recover family heirlooms from forgotten-about safe deposit boxes.  

“We’ve hit an all time record for the amount of accounts returned already. This is before the fiscal year is already out; we’ve returned 77,000 total accounts. But we’re also at our second largest record for total dollars returned already,” Zweifel said.

That amounts to a total of $28 million returned in 2010, second only to $34.5 million returned in 2008.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports (:60 mp3)