$10,000 waiting for Shorewood couple through ICash

ICash connects unclaimed property with the rightful owners

State Sen. Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet (right) shakes hands with Karen Pastell of Shorewood (left) while Karen Pastell's husband Paul Pastell. looks on. Ventura's office helped connect the Pastells with $10,000 of unclaimed property through ICash.

Similar to many people, Karen Pastell of Shorewood had heard of ICash but never looked into it.

So Pastell was stunned when John Laesch, chief of staff at the time for state Sen. Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, knocked on her door in December. Pastell said Laesch told her that she had $10,000 in unclaimed property.

And Laesch had the paperwork to prove it.

What is ICash?

The purpose of ICash is to return unclaimed property to its rightful owners. Unclaimed property may include forgotten paychecks, expired term life insurance policies, settlement checks or even inheritances, according to a news release from Ventura’s office.

Unclaimed property also may include uncashed vendor checks, stocks and the contents of safe deposit boxes, according to a news release from the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office.

When companies and banks are unable to reunite people with their money, that money, by law, winds up at the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, according to the release from the treasurer’s office.

I was pretty sure we didn’t have any, but we did.”

—  Karen Pastell of Shorewood, who learned that she had $10,000 waiting for her in ICash

To help connect people with their unclaimed property, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs reached out to state elected officials for their help, according to the release from Ventura’s office.

The treasurer’s office returned $276 million in unclaimed property in 2023 and $1.9 billion since Frerichs took office, according to the release from the treasurer’s office.

ICash partners with state lawmakers

Ventura said the treasurer’s office initially had reached out to her and asked whether ICash could participate in some of her vendor events. And then it worked with her to actively contact people to connect them with their unclaimed property, which she said she was happy to do.

“Working families are what make this state turn,” Ventura said. “And we want to support them in every way we can.”

Laesch said people receive “a lot of scam mail and phone calls.”

But a state lawmaker contacting someone about unclaimed property has more credibility, Laesch said.

Still, they could not reach several people, even by phone, Ventura said.

So she had another idea.

“She asked me to go knock on the doors and give it one last attempt,” Laesch said. “So that is what I did.”

Laesch said that he explained the situation to Pastell and her husband, Paul, and showed them the paperwork.

“They remembered the phone calls,” Laesch said.

Karen Pastell said she hardly ever answers the home phone because of “all the spam stuff.”

She also had received “a couple of notes” by mail, which she ignored.

“You always get a bunch of stuff in the mail saying, ‘You’ve won this,’” Karen Pastell said.

Laesch said arriving unannounced at people’s doors because of ICash has one benefit.

“You show up with good news,” Laesch said. “It’s always good news.”

Why had Pastell never checked the ICash database to see if she had unclaimed property?

“I was pretty sure we didn’t have any,” Karen Pastell said, “but we did.”

State Sen. Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, (center) poses with Karen Pastell of Shorewood (left) and Karen Pastell's husband Paul Pastell (right). Ventura's office helped connect the Pastells with $10,000 of unclaimed property through ICash.

Search the ICash database

The Pastells later went to the ICash site to see if they had additional unclaimed property, and they did, Karen Pastell said.

Paul Pastell had about $500 in medical reimbursements, Karen Pastell said.

Karen Pastell had $55 from the village of Shorewood and $2.99 from Staples “that must be a rebate,” Karen Pastell said.

Ironically, the Pastells replaced their furnace shortly after Christmas. So the $10,000 was a nice surprise and perfect timing, Karen Pastell said.

Mostly, Karen Pastell hopes their story encourages people to check the ICash website.

“There’s probably something out there for a lot of people,” Karen Pastell said.

In Karen Pastell’s case, the $10,000 was from a life insurance policy she didn’t know that her mother had.

“Bittersweet is the right word,” Karen Pastell said. “A last gift from my mom.”

To check for unclaimed property, visit icash.illinoistreasurer.gov and enter your name.