Inheritance scam: How to identify a scam and protect yourself

Inheritance scam is a topic that can affect anyone. Especially on the Internet, there are traps lurking that you as a user don’t even think about. Again and again, the topic appears in the news and again and again you think to yourself that it won’t happen to you.

But you can never be sure. The danger of inheritance fraud lurks everywhere. Never pay money and provide personal details and bank account information to claim the inheritance money. Learn how the scam works here.

The inheritance from abroad

Who doesn’t dream of suddenly finding out about a filthy rich uncle who left you a few million Euros? Or of a rich aunt, who had a house at the sea or abroad, which should belong to you after her death now.

Inheritance scam: How to identify a scam and protect yourself

Everyone knows this wishful thinking and that is why scammers exploit the supposed inheritance in this type of inheritance scams. If you receive such a lucky message about an inheritance and unexpected money, be very careful with it.

The perpetrators of the inheritance scams

The perpetrators of inheritance fraud lure you as the supposed heir with a message about an inheritance worth millions of dollars, which is supposed to be transferred to your bank account.

Often, the scammers pose as the deceased’s attorney or claim to have been sent by a probate investigation service. But it is also possible to be contacted by a financial institution, with seemingly legitimate legal documents.

In these inheritage scams, the distant relative has the same last name and had no other descendants. Neither father, nor mother, nor brother or sister are still alive. Therefore, the alleged inheritance falls to you as the closest living relative.

Always exercise caution when receiving such a message. If you are not sure whether this is the truth, check the facts surrounding the alleged millions very carefully before you consider transferring money.

What does a message from inheritance scammers look like?

The supposed happy messages are sent by an alleged law firm by e-mail, by fax or even by Whatsapp. They are usually accompanied by a photo of a will. It is supposed to be a six- to seven-digit sum, and the document is provided with flags and stamps to make it look serious.

The scammers often work with translators, so numerous grammatical errors and spelling mistakes are made. However, these are often not noticed by the victim in the excitement, or are ignored, driven by the possibility of a large fortune.

Internet scammers demand you to pay money as a fee for inheritance

In the first phase of the scam, the con artists usually ask for small amounts of money for the processing and preparation of various papers legal and financial aspects. The alleged lawyer writes you a message with a list of the decedent’s assets. They inform you that a fortune awaits if you follow their instructions. To do this, you first need to send only identity documents.

After initially demanding small amounts from you, he then demands excessive amounts of inheritance tax or similar. New messages keep coming from the lawyer, a banker or a tax agent.

The person concerned is usually so fixated on the alleged inheritance that he can no longer think clearly. He has the large inheritance in mind, makes phone calls to the alleged lawyer and transfers more and more amounts abroad. In the worst case, he even goes into debt to get the promised property or inheritance.

Inheritance creep

Another trick to get your money through inheritance scams is inheritance creep. This often affects older, single people. You are particularly at risk if you have little contact with relatives or friends. This form of fraud is often difficult for those affected to recognize and is usually only detected by real relatives when it is already too late.

A legacy scammer is a person who uses certain tricks to sneak into the life of the target person. Usually, this is done by feigning closeness and feelings. This is the only way to gain the victim’s trust and subsequently obtain the assets.

Often, the legacy creep encounters distrust from the relatives. This then leads to the victim breaking off contact with the relatives. Inheritance scam can affect both men and women.

After complete isolation from the outside world, the victim transfers a bank account power of attorney and similar responsible activities to the legacy hunter. The latter then has the opportunity to use all the assets for his own purposes.

If you have fallen victim to such a scam, be sure to seek help. As the victim, you will feel humiliated and ashamed, but you can prevent other people from falling victim to this person. The police, a lawyer or even a detective can give you initial information about this scam.

Your own relatives want your „unclaimed inheritance”

A special type of inheritance scams is one in which the victim’s confidants or relatives cheat each other out of the inheritance. Often, elderly people have a close confidant to whom they communicate their wishes after death. This trusted person usually knows the wills and where they are kept.

Unfortunately, it is always the case that the one to whom the deceased person has entrusted everything is greedy for money and makes the will disappear.

Take precautions in your family. Notify everyone who is a beneficiary in your estate. Deposit a will with a trusted notary. That way, it will be kept safe and you can be sure that all beneficiaries will get the value you want. Probate is a subject where disputes among family members always arise.

Exposing inheritance fraud

Exposing inheritance fraud is usually not a pleasant experience, especially if it happens in your own family.

Don’t hesitate to report it to the police they should have set up an internet crime complaint centre. If you are unsure call in a private investigator. This way, your assets can be divided safely and fairly. Even in the case of the sudden appearance of a rich relative from Africa, the USA or another country, a detective can investigate to provide certainty.

Please note our advice and warning signs on how to protect yourself from scammers:

  • Do not blindly believe in a supposed inheritance of many millions of US dollars from abroad.
  • Never pay money for a million dollar inheritance to a supposed lawyer.
  • Never pay a supposed administrative fee via Western Union to another state.
  • Check the name and license of the purported attorney who sent you the “good news” of the inheritance to your email address, because it´ll most likely be a scam letter.
  • Talk to an estate lawyer if you have legal questions.
  • Never share your bank account details with strangers.
  • Don’t share your credit card details with strangers.
  • You should never provide personal details.
  • Never send copies of personal documents to strangers.

Never pay attention to spam emails that promise you good things. These often come from the Nigeria Connection.

Usually, the fake lawyers do a lot of damage to the recipient with the fake letters of the emails about the inheritance supposedly due to you. Whether from Spain, Switzerland, Nigeria or Ghana – the risks lurk everywhere. 

We verify whether the inheritance is genuine

Seek advice before you transfer money to anyone. If you have doubts and before you send money, our private detectives will check for you

    1. if the law firm is real
    2. if the deceased person existed
    3. if the inheritance is real.

This will cost you a small amount of money, but in return you will be on the safe side and protect yourself from possible scam.

Send us a message with all the details of the inheritance. You will then receive an offer.

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