A homeless man in Florida found the surprise of a lifetime with the help of a police officer and a caseworker.
The discovery: a forgotten bank account that had been collecting years of social security.
John Helinski had been on the streets sleeping in a cardboard box for 3 years when this happened, according to WFTS Tampa Bay.
"I just managed on my own," Helinski told WFTS Tampa Bay. "Sleeping underneath the benches there and no one would see me."
Helinski was one of the many Americans left destitute each year due to identity theft.
That is, until he got in touch with his local homeless housing center.
Helinski now has a bed to sleep in every night as well as a locker.
He also has caseworker who worked hard to get him his identity back.
"He needed to have an identification," Case Manager Charles Inman told WFTS Tampa Bay, "but we couldn't get an identification without a birth certificate. There was no other option to succeed. You know, the thought of putting a 62-year-old man back on the street wasn't acceptable."
With the help of Tampa Police Officer Dan McDonald, the two were able to help Helinski attain a driver's license as well as a Social Security card. It proved to be somewhat difficult since although Helsinki is an American citizen, he was born in Poland, WFTS Tampa Bay reports.
"I enjoy it because I like a challenge," Officer McDonald told the news station.
"We first had to figure out that we needed a consular record of foreign birth or something like that," Officer McDonald continued.
When Helinski got his identity back, he then found out he had bank account from years back.
"At that time, it was Landmark Bank. Then it became Bank of America," he told reporters.
As it turned out, the account had be accruing money over the course of years.
Now Helinski has enough to buy a home.
"I guess I'm exhilarated, excited, you know,” Helinski said.
The excitement was mutual.
"I think we were both stunned. We weren't quite sure what to say,” said Officer McDonald.
Homelessness affects 600,000 Americans each year. About 15% of those individuals are considered "chronically homeless" with 9% them being former United States Veterans.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, WFTS Screenshot