Advance-fee Fraud Targets Victims with Money Promises
In today’s society, there are scams around every corner. Inheritance and lottery scams are no different – they trick you to parting with your money or sharing your banking details. The inheritance scam appears sophisticated by involving personalized letters and seemingly official professionals. Lottery scams are also rife in today’s society, an advance-fee fraud where the fraudster contacts the victim to congratulate them on an unexpected winning of a large sum of money.
These “too good to be true” scams offer great wealth to the victims. All that the “winner” needs to do is provide personal bank account information and pay some fees up-front.
The First Step is the Contact
Scammers contact the victim – either by letter, phone call, text, or mail – posing as a lawyer, banker, or foreign official.
In inheritance scams, they will most likely claim that a deceased individual has no other beneficiaries and thereby legally entitle the victim to the inheritance. Lotto scammers will pose as officials from the competition board and inform you of your winnings. The victim is advised to keep it confidential for security purposes and that the claiming of the prize needs to happen promptly before a deadline date.
The supposed inheritance or winnings will be difficult to get due to government impositions and bank restrictions and money will need to be paid or personal details given in order to receive it. Scammers will take extreme measures to convince the victim of their fortune – these can include all sorts of seemingly legitimate legal documents to sign. The victim may even be invited overseas to sign documents!
Scammers often work in teams. Others are brought in to pose as lawyers, bankers, and tax agents to add to their legitimacy. Once making the advance-fee payment, the victim will not receive their inheritance or their money back. Even worse, they are left open to identity theft.
What are Some of the Warning Signs that can Prevent You from Getting Scammed?
- Being contacted out of the blue by a lawyer to tell you of inheritance from an unknown, distant and wealthy family member.
- A seemingly legitimate letter with letterhead and logo – but scattered with grammatical or spelling errors. Similarly, an official looking email or SMS with errors or a strange contact name.
- A very large promised inheritance, often quoted in foreign currency.
- When questioning the legitimacy, you will be served with a fake birth certificate, bank statements, and other documents.
- You are asked to provide your personal details and pay a fee for transfer or tax charges (starting off small and increasing in size).
- The scammer may offer to meet you in person, but this rarely ever happens.
- Legitimate lotteries don’t require you to pay fees in order to collect any winnings. If you are asked to do so, take it as a warning.
These are fairly recognisable signs that you may be getting scammed. But how do you make sure that it doesn’t happen to you?
What You can do to Protect Yourself
- Don’t give out any of your personal details – identity, banking, or residential.
- Avoid any communication with strangers who insist on up-front payment via money order, wire-transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card, or electronic currency.
- If in any doubt, seek out advice from an independent professional such as a lawyer, accountant etc.
- Many scams are repeats – you can do a thorough internet search using the exact wording or names in any emails or letters you receive or you could ask our forum members. Many scammers are very well known and we can usually identify them quickly.
If you suspect a scam at all, do not respond. Once you do, scammers will manipulate and prey on your emotions to get the money and details that they want. Keep informed and alert!