• Action 9: Central Florida man's search for auction treasure turns up only trash

    By: Todd Ulrich


    ORLANDO, Fla. - When Cullen Mariacher saw the description of three lots of unclaimed property from bank safe deposit boxes during the state’s Florida Treasure Hunt auction, he decided to jump into the bidding.

    The lots were said to contain gold necklaces, brooches and rings, and for $12,000, Mariacher was able to win the three he’d been eyeing.

    “Day of, (I felt) pretty excited,” he said. “Day after, somewhat concerned.”

    As Mariacher started to examine the items, taking them out of plastic bags one at a time, he said concern turned into alarm.

    “These items look like they came from a repair drawer at a pawn shop,” he said.

    Photos: Central Florida man’s search for auction treasure turns up only trash

    Fearing the worst, Mariacher contacted a master gemologist appraiser.

    Juanita Addeo delivered Mariacher the disappointing news: He had no treasure, no bargain, just a huge loss.

    The appraiser told Mariacher that the items he won at the auction were worth, best case, maybe $2,000.

    He felt that the state’s description of the items was way off.

    Mariacher sent a complaint to the Florida Department of Financial Services, claiming its catalog listing, how the lots were displayed and starting bid amounts were very misleading.

    “There’s no treasure,” he said. “There’s no treasure for anyone.”

    Channel 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich contacted the Florida Department of Financial Services.

    An official with the department said that every bidder signs a no-refunds receipt, that the items are fully disclosed and starting bids are reasonable.

    Despite that, after reviewing Mariacher’s complaint, state officials said he will get a full $12,000 refund if he returns all the items he purchased.

    Do you have a story for Ulrich to investigate? You can contact him here.

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