Who wouldn’t want to experience something straight out of a movie? An old relative that you had no clue about dies and leaves all their fortune to you – within a few days, you become a millionaire. While this is something many desire, it happens rarely.
However, what does happen are the inheritance scams using the exact same scenario, using people’s curiosity, and often bad financial situations for their own benefit. What exactly are inheritance scams, and how can you protect yourself against them? Well, that’s something we’ll be discussing in this article, so if you want to know more about it, all you have to do is keep reading.
What Is an Inheritance Scam?
According to the experts from Probate Advance, “an inheritance scam is a specific type of scam that uses the tale of a person who is now deceased and has left their estate to the intended victim of the scam. The scam usually begins with an email or letter telling the person that they are distant relatives of someone they never heard of. That person recently died, and the law firm sending the email or letter has been trying to find relatives to receive the inheritance.”
There are a few things that make this scam believable. First of all, the letter looks like it came from a law firm – what’s more, if you search for it, you will realize that the firm actually does exist. Secondly, attorneys often actually do look for missing relatives of a dead person, which is why being contacted by a lawyer to claim an inheritance is not something impossible.
However, there are some things you can look out for that will be an indication something’s off about this whole thing. Those include:
Scammers often contact their victims through emails, which is the first indication that something is wrong. No reputable law firm or bank official will contact you through email when it comes to matters as serious as an inheritance.
What’s more, many scammers are not really educated or precise, which is why if you look closer, you might be able to spot some typos or grammatical errors – this is the second indication you might be getting scammed.
Last but not least, look at the email address the email tells you to contact – does it use a public domain such as @gmail.com or @yahoo.com? If the answer is yes, then this is another sign that something is off – a reputable law firm will use their own domain, mainly for security reasons.
Willingness to Show Personal Documents
A real attorney or bank official will never share personal documents, especially those connected with inheritance, to a stranger, and definitely not through an email. Scammers might also try to get personal information out of you, such as credit card numbers or personal documentation – never send those things to someone you don’t know, and especially don’t do it online. It’s almost like asking to be scammed.
Use of a Bogus Bank
In many cases, the person who is trying to scam you will share the name of the bank in which it is supposed to be held. Usually, when you try to look for it, it will not show you any real location.
Also, keep in mind that even if the bank is real, and its address is correct, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good institution. Not so long ago, there was a scam circulating, in which scammers were using the “Royal Bank’ of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania – while the said bank existed, it was rated only one star due to its business practices.
Last but not least, in order to receive the inheritance, scammers might ask you to do an overseas payment via money order – never agree to that, as once it goes, it is almost impossible to get your money back.
The Bottom Line
As much as we wish it wasn’t the case, inheritance scams happen way more often than they should. Unfortunately, many people don’t even realize how easy it is to fall victim to one – most things look legit, which is why you wouldn’t even think about being scammed.
However, that doesn’t mean that something like this cannot happen – as we already mentioned, lawyers actually look for missing relatives of their recently deceased clients, so you never know – maybe you just are one of the lucky ones?