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Inheritance Scams – Beware of Inheritances from Unknown Relatives

Scammers may use a purported inheritance to trick victims into making payments for alleged expenses.

Inheritance scam is an issue that can affect anyone. Especially on the Internet, there are pitfalls that you as a user don’t even think about. It’s in the news all the time and you think it won’t happen to you.

But you can never be sure. The threat of inheritance scam is everywhere.

Inheritance from abroad – real or fake?

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

Everyone knows this wishful thinking, and scammers take advantage of it. If you receive such a happy message about inheritance and unexpected money, be very careful with it.

The perpetrators lure you in as the supposed heir with a message about an inheritance worth millions of dollars. Often, the scammers pretend to be the deceased’s lawyer or claim to have been sent by an heir search service. They may also contact seemingly legitimate companies.

The distant relative has the same last name and had no other descendants. Neither father, mother, brother, sister nor near family members are alive. Therefore, the alleged unclaimed inheritance falls to you as the closest living relative.

Always be cautious when you receive such a message from a law firm. If you are not sure whether it is true, check the facts surrounding the alleged millions very carefully before paying any money.

Beware of inheritance scams

In inheritance scams, fraudsters try to get money from their victims by asking them to pay supposed fees.

Internet scammers demand money as inheritance fee

The scammers usually first ask for small amounts of money to process and prepare various documents. The supposed law firm writes you a message with a list of the deceased’s assets. After asking you for small payments, the scammer will then ask you to pay excessive amounts of inheritance tax or the like.

You may be introduced to another scammer – posing as a banker, lawyer, or tax agent – who will supposedly help you with the legal and financial aspects of the transaction. The victim is asked to provide personal information, including checking account information, so that the inheritance can be wired to the financial institution of the victim’s choice.

The victim is usually so fixated on the supposed inheritance that he or she is not thinking clearly. He thinks about the large inheritance, calls the supposed lawyer, and sends more and more money to a foreign country. In the worst cases, they even go into debt to get the promised property or inheritance.

Special case: The false inheritance in romance scams

In romance scams, we often see a scheme in which the romance scammer has met a new partner on the Internet. After several chats, the person explains that he or she has to travel to Africa to settle the inheritance of the deceased father, grandmother, or other relative.

The person, who may be male or female, then contacts you from a country such as

  • the Ivory Coast
  • Nigeria
  • or Ghana

and explains that there are some small problems with the large inheritance. Before it can be paid out, fees must be paid to

  1. a lawyer,
  2. the bank
  3. and the government.

Only then would the large sum be paid out.

The person then asks the victim for financial help. The money is said to be a loan and will be repaid with high interest when the person returns.

To make the demands credible, the person sends official documents, letters from the bank with all the bank account details, and the like. In addition, a lawyer is contacted to handle the case.

The victim is then asked to send the money to Africa. If a payment is made, a new demand is immediately made because more fees are incurred. In fact, the inheritance does not exist and it is all a scam.

Avoid inheritance scams

Never send money to anyone you do not know.

Detecting inheritance scams

Discovering an inheritance scam is usually not a pleasant experience. Especially when it happens in your own family.

Don’t hesitate to report it to the police or hire a private investigator like us if you’re unsure. That way, your estate can be divided safely and fairly. Even if a rich relative from Africa, Europe or another part of the world suddenly appears, a private investigator can investigate to provide certainty.

Please note our advice on how to protect yourself from an inheritance scam:

  1. Do not blindly believe a supposed inheritance of millions of US dollars from abroad.
  2. Never transfer money to a supposed lawyer for a million dollar inheritance.
  3. Never pay supposed fees via Western Union to another state.
  4. Verify the name and license of the supposed attorney who sent you the “good news” about the inheritance to your email address.
  5. Do not send your bank account or personal details to a stranger.
  6. Never send copies of personal documents such as ID or passport to a stranger.

Never pay attention to spam emails or scam letters promising good things. Such a letter or email often comes from the Nigeria Connection.

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

Private investigator finds out if it is an inheritance scam or not

Our private investigators are familiar with all types of inheritance scams. In case of doubt, we can conduct discreet investigations to find out the truth.

We will check whether you have received a scam letter and whether the deceased was a real person or not. Never pay money or a processing fee to receive an inheritance. If the fee can only be paid with a prepaid gift card or wire transfer, be wary.

It is better to send us a message and we will give you an estimate of the cost of an investigation in your case. The fee is usually quite low, but will save you from a large financial loss.

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