Inheritance and Probate Fraud: What it is and what you can do about it
Posted on 28th July 2022 at 15:44
Fraud is not a new thing, however, the digital age seems to have seen an increase in the number and types of scams. The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) estimates the cost of probate fraud to be in the region of £150 million.
Who commits the fraud?
There can be a wide range of individuals responsible for fraud including the executors, friends and family of the deceased, carers, professionals and organised criminals.
What is an Inheritance Scam?
This is where you would be contacted to say you are the recipient of an inheritance and they try to trick you into giving them money.
You may get contacted and told that you are due an inheritance from a distant relative. This contact could be by letter, email, phone or text.
The person contacting you may claim to be from a law firm or bank and that you are the only beneficiary. They will say that they have been trying to find a living relative to receive an inheritance. This is seen as possible as probate lawyers will sometimes search for missing relatives when someone has died.
The scammers may use the name and letterhead of an existing and legitimate law firm to make their scam more believable. They may even send you bundles of legal documents to try to convince you of the legitimacy of their approach and these may include fake birth certificates and bank statements.
What do they want?
A scammer may request a small fee to cover administrative expenses with the promise of a larger sum to follow. Once you have sent the money then the scammer will ask for your bank account details so they can send the money to your account. They may then steal your identity and empty your back account.
What should you do if you are approached by a scammer?
• Never respond, this will only confirm that someone has seen it
• Never send money
• Do not give out credit card details or bank account details
• Do a Google search to see if anyone else has reported scam activity from that organisation
• If in doubt speak with a professional such as an accountant or lawyer
• If you have already provided information on your bank account or other finances then contact your bank immediately
• If you have received any threats then alert the police
• Report it to Action Fraud
The opportunities to commit fraud on-line are ever increasing and contain a relatively low chance of being caught. Please be aware of the dangers and where you suspect fraud act with caution.
Please note that if we contact you regarding an inheritance we will be happy to provide our SRA number/Law society and other membership pages to verify our legitimacy.
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