Inheritance fraud is when you are told that someone very rich has died and you’re in line to receive a huge inheritance.
A fraudster who claims to be a lawyer from overseas or some other legal official sends you an email or a letter. They tell you that a person sharing your family name has died and left behind a vast amount of money.
The lawyer is administering the inheritance and has been unable to identify any of the dead person’s relatives. As a result, the money will go to the government. The lawyer suggests that, because you share the same family name as the deceased, he could pay the inheritance to you. You could then split the money between you, rather than handing it over to the government.
The fraudsters will emphasise the need for secrecy and warn you not to tell anyone else about the deal. To hurry you into making a hasty decision, they will also stress the need to act quickly.
However, there is no inheritance and the person contacting you isn’t a lawyer or legal official.
If you respond to the fraudsters, they’ll ask you to pay various fees – for example: taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc. – so they can release your non-existent inheritance.
Each time you make a payment, the fraudsters will come up with a reason why the inheritance can’t be paid out unless you make another payment. If you ask, they will also give you reasons why the fees can’t be taken from your inheritance and have to be paid upfront.
If you become reluctant to pay a fee or suggest you can’t afford it, the fraudsters will put pressure on you by reminding you how close you are to receiving a sum of money much greater than the fees you’ve already handed over, and of how much you’ve already paid out.
The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details so they can pay the inheritance directly into your bank account. But, if you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters can use them to empty your account.
Are you a victim of inheritance fraud?
What should you do if you’re a victim of inheritance fraud?
Protect yourself against inheritance fraud
If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.