Buried Treasure

By Paul MacCready

December 19, 2019

Ever hear a story about a family that found a Model T in an old barn, a letter from George Washington in stack of old letters, a winning lottery ticket in a jacket, or a priceless painting purchased at a yard sale? There’s a corporate version of that kind of buried in plain sight treasure and it’s actually more common and easier to find…if you know where to look. From experience, Keane knows the hiding places and how to separate the fool’s gold from the real thing

Where does it come from?

With advances in technology, we’ve noticed an increase in reliance on automated systems. That approach is saving companies money in terms of effort but it is also allowing items to flow into the escheat process that do not belong there. Examples include the following:

  • Duplicate payments for items already paid for on a prior invoice.
  • Overpayments resulting from a valid invoice but an unrelated credit by the same vendor.
  • Checks and funds received without proper documentation.
  • Errors in the holder’s records resulting in overpayments or an inability to recognize credits related to entities that are no longer in business.
  • Mistakes in communication with vendors or customers that lead to inaccurate escheat.

The above are all examples of unclaimed property inventory items that are not owed. A last example of lost value for companies is items that are property in the inventory but do not need to be reported – these are items eligible for statutory exemption.

How do we find it?

Keane combines analytics with strategy and brute force. We review client data, target opportunities and then conduct strategic outreach. Our objective is not just to confirm errors but to obtain the documentation necessary to withstand a auditor or state inquiry as to why the item was removed from the inventory and taken to income. Only when a client accepts our findings do we mark the effort a success.


Everyone agrees that the such items likely exist, but like unclaimed property itself, most believe the volume must be immaterial. Our experience begs to differ. Keane’s customizable process can be deployed on an annual basis or for specific stand-alone projects. Clients maintain complete control through a strict authorization process where they accept or reject Keane’s supported positions on an item by item basis. The best part may be that Keane only charges a success-based fee for accepted items and positions.

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