As a young vaudeville performer, WC Fields (1880-1946) lived in poverty and near starvation. He had a recurring nightmare of being alone in a strange city, penniless, and being pursued by police. He awoke from these dreams in a cold sweat, and the dreams so unnerved him that he started a lifelong practice to make sure the dreams never came true.
Fields began opening bank accounts in every town that he could. These accounts would be for as little as the loose change he had in his pockets to as much as $50,000. He used fictitious names for the accounts, such as Cholmonley Frampton-Blythe, Aristotle Hoop, Ludovic Fishpond, Figley E. Whitesides, and Sneed Hearn. Eventually he got to the point where he would wake up from that recurring nightmare and say to himself, “Forget it — you’ve probably got a bank account in that town.”
Fields neglected to keep track of his many bank accounts. He confided to a friend that he had more than 700 of them, yet only 48 accounts were identified and closed at the time of his death in 1946. It is estimated that as much as $6.7 million in unclaimed bank accounts is still out there, waiting for Aloysius Mergatroid-Hamms to show up and claim the money.