He often has to overcome a certain wariness among people he contacts. These days, when nearly everyone has received scam e-mails from purported Spanish princes or Nigerian bank presidents wanting to share their wealth, suspicion is understandable.
Minnick's main technique for overcoming the skepticism is openness.
“He sounded like a normal guy,” remembers Larry Robbins of Indianapolis, for whom Minnick recovered $1,360. “He was willing to tell me more than I expected him to.”
In Robbins' case, that meant Minnick told him so much about what the unclaimed money was - an overpayment of property taxes after a mortgage refinancing - that Robbins knew exactly which chunk of change Minnick was describing.
A Fort Wayne resident, who asked that her name not be used, was swayed by Minnick's telling her he would work with a local attorney to recover the money she was owed. She reached the lawyer and discussed the situation. Eventually, her share of the value of an old home amounted to a little more than $4,000.
But doesn't state government already operate such a service at www.indianaunclaimed.com?
Yes, but the difference, Minnick says, is that the state's Web site catalogs only a minority of unclaimed funds waiting for their rightful Hoosier owners.
“Less than 15 percent comes from Indiana Unclaimed,” he said.
State government isn't the only repository for unclaimed funds. Funds can also reside with local governments' budgets, insurance companies, escrow accounts and other sites.
And unclaimed funds don't all come from misplaced tax refunds. Unclaimed money can come from utility or apartment deposits, final paychecks of short-term jobs, property settlements in divorces, insurance refunds or settlements, and many more sources.
Usually, 80 percent to 85 percent of the time, Minnick is able to recover the money on his own, with the owner's cooperation, he said. Occasionally, he has to involve an attorney, which increases the commission an owner would have to pay for the service.
Minnick, who is beginning his third year of running his company, said his largest successful recovery so far this year was $13,500. He's currently pursuing two claims, totaling $68,000, for a family.
He draws on a background in insurance, real estate and banking to help find these missing assets. He keeps plugging away at the data-mining his business depends on, convinced that finding funds first is the right approach.
“It's like finding a needle in a haystack,” Minnick said. “I'd rather find the needle, then find the people.”