Inheritance frauds on estates
You receive an email telling you that a person sharing your family name has died and that, as a consequence, you are set to receive a vast inheritance from the deceased's estate. What do you do? Celebrate with magnums of Dom Perignon champagne before swiftly putting down a deposit for that dream villa in Tuscany? This would probably be my instinctive response to hearing this news, but I would be a fool to do so, and here's why.
Fraudsters are plying their trade with remarkable adroitness in the inheritance domain. Their modus operandi usually takes the following form: a charlatan purporting to be a Business Relations Manager from some overseas bank contacts you via email or letter claiming that you are the beneficiary of a distant relative's estate. The fraudster will ask for various fees upfront so that they can release the fictional inheritance and accentuate the need to act expeditiously. The cruel impostor may also request your bank details so that - they claim - they can pay the inheritance direct to your account. In actual fact, it is likely that they would drain all the funds from it.
Of course, in some instances, it may well be the genuine case that a distant relative of whom you are unaware has died leaving you as a potential beneficiary of the estate. In such cases, it is important to distinguish the ingenuous assertion from the hoax.
Blake Morgan works closely with Finders International, a reputable firm of genealogists. If you are the potential beneficiary of the estate of a person who has died intestate (that is, without a valid Will) you will be approached by a firm such as Finders who will inform you of your prospective entitlement. Importantly, a genuine firm will not ask for any money upfront but will ask you to sign a commission agreement whereby they will take an agreed percentage from any funds you inherit. They will emphasise that no money will come out of your own pocket: if it transpires that the estate is insolvent, for example, you will not be liable to pay the genealogists any money.
In short, our advice is this: be wary of letters from overseas asking for any money upfront. Reputable genealogists will never ask for any funds. We have a specialised team at Blake Morgan that deals with intestate estates. Please contact us for any advice and further information.