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5,000 Orange County residents could have unclaimed checks

$4,129 largest amount owed from Clerk of Courts

More than $295,000 worth of unclaimed checks is currently sitting at the Orange County Clerk of Courts office waiting to be claimed.

News 6 was able to get results for one Florida couple who are owed more than $2,300. The Chandlers said they had no idea the money was there - and that there is a deadline to get it.

"It's Christmas in July," said Merlynne Chandler when we told her about the money last week.

News 6 investigator Adrianna Iwasinski printed off the Orange County list - and discovered more than 5,000 people and places are owed money from 2015. They either served on a jury and didn't get their check, or they are owed a restitution check since they were a victim of a past crime.

Dain Weister, director of communications for the Orange County Clerk of Courts, says the office sends more than 50,000 checks a year to people all over Orange County involved in some sort of court proceeding.

"And we put out public service announcements, we put an ad in the newspaper, we put it on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter," said Weister. "We do a whole campaign to let people know about this unclaimed-checks list every year."

Merlynne Chambers and her husband were elated to hear there was a restitution check for $2,368.01 still waiting for them. This came after the man accused of stealing jewelry from them back in 2012 had served his time and paid all the money he owed.

"I'm just so happy that you found it, and I really appreciate it because, well, I just wouldn't have known about it," said Merlynne.

"Our financial folks worked with her, confirmed her identity and they are cutting her the check, so success there," said Weister.

We also found a drug-rehab facility that was owed more than $4,000 in restitution after the man who was caught and convicted of stealing from them paid up everything he owed as part of his probation and sentence.

Aspire Health director of community Relations Todd Dixon told News 6 that the money from these checks will be used by prevention programs to educate and help prevent substance abuse.

"Some situations, people have forgotten about the check, they put it away or forgot to cash it. With agencies, it doesn't get to the right person, the right department to get cash and so forth. So there's all kinds of reasons why this money is sitting out there," Dixon said.

The deadline to claim the money is Sept. 1. After that, it gets forfeited to the state. Some people are owed as little as 1 cent but one person on this list is owed more than $4,000.

If you have lived in any other county, you may want to check that county's website to see if you are owed any money there.