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  Cook County was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.

Homeowners who gave up might get foreclosure refund

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Call it a green lining on the cloud of the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

Homeowners who handed the keys over to the bank may actually have some money coming their way, and in Cook County, a new online system may help nearly 2,000 property owners get their due.

The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court is holding approximately $18 million in mortgage foreclosure surplus funds -- profits generated when the bank sells a property for more than what the original owner owed the lending institution.

The county has identified about 1,900 onetime owners who are owed money as a result of foreclosure sales in the last decade, and Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown has launched a campaign to get the word out.

In one case, a property owner could collect $460,000, she said.

So many people turn the keys over to the bank and don't look back -- and that's why the money has accumulated, Brown said.

"I think the problem has been, people want to close that chapter of their lives and many times people just feel so bad, they feel that once they lose their property, it's all gone. Nothing belongs to them. The equity in the property isn't there. But I'm trying to get the word out that that isn't true," Brown said.

Nationally, about 2 million homes were in foreclosure, Fortune magazine reports. And Cook County is at a 10-year high with 43,726 homeowners in default in 2008 and a projected 50,286 this year, according to Brown's office.

Go to www.cookcountyclerkof and head to the mortgage surplus search engine, which will allow you to put in your name. If there's a match, begin the process of petitioning the court for your money.

Cook County residents can also visit the clerk's accounting office for more information.

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