Attorney General Hardy Myers has obtained a judgment against an Oregon unlicensed investigator and his company for collecting assets through the State of California's unclaimed property program and not turning over the money to his clients. Named in a general default judgment filed in Marion County Circuit Court are Robert C. Noiseau, formerly of Keizer, and his now defunct corporation, RCN Consulting, Inc. Noiseau's last known address is Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
The Oregon Department of Justice between 2003 and 2004 received two complaints from out-of-state consumers, who had authorized Noiseau and his company to represent them in collecting found money from California's unclaimed property program. According to the victims, Noiseau received the money but never turned it over to them. Noiseau also represented himself as a licensed investigator when he was not.
"This case helps to emphasize the importance of exploring the credentials and complaint history of any person or business before empowering them to do anything on your behalf," Myers explained. "Taking the time to check certifications may save you loss of money and help you avoid a hardship."
The defendants were sued by the Oregon Department of Justice in December 2004 after several months of unsuccessfully trying to resolve the case through a settlement agreement. The default judgment was signed by Judge Dennis Graves and entered into the court register this week.
Under the judgment, the defendants must return $1,373 to a victim in Wittmann, Arizona and $526 to another victim from LaHabra, California. In addition, Noiseau and his company must pay Justice $4,244 in civil penalties and $4,244 in attorney fees.
Attorney General Myers also cautioned Oregonians about being contacted by "money finders," who will, for a fee, reunite consumers with lost assets. Although it is not illegal to operate such a business, many of these "money finders" such as RCN Consulting operate fraudulently.
All states administer an unclaimed property program. In Oregon, the Department of State Lands (DSL) operates an Unclaimed Property Program with the goal of reuniting as many people as possible with their unclaimed financial assets. The program has received an average of nearly $19 million per year and returned around $5.5 million per year to owners.
The unclaimed property is mostly money that has not been claimed by its owner or has not had any owner-generated activity for three to five years. This can include savings or checking accounts, uncashed payroll or dividend checks, old utility deposits, stocks and bonds, safe deposit box contents or insurance proceeds or refunds. If the DSL is unsuccessful in locating the rightful owner, the unclaimed property is held in the Common School Fund for owners and heirs in trust forever. Earnings from the CSF are sent to counties to support K-12 public schools every six months.
Consumers wanting to know if the DSL is holding funds in their name may call (503) 378-3805, ext. 450, for information about claiming property or conduct a search on the DSL web site at egov.oregon.gov/DSL/ and click on "unclaimed property." This site contains more detailed information as well as links to other states' unclaimed property program web sites. Due to large numbers of requests, consumers are asked to allow 120 days for a written response. Consumers also may send questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Advice about dealing with individuals who attempt to reunite owners with their unclaimed assets for a fee also can be found on the DSL web site. "Usually, there is no reason to pay someone to find your unclaimed property since there are so many ways to find it and claim it yourself," said Unclaimed Property Program Manager Cyndi Wickham.
Consumers may file complaints against "money finders" by calling the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) email@example.com