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Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Creating safer, stronger and active communities

Inheritance Fraud

Inheritance fraud usually occurs when you are told that someone very rich has died and you are in line to receive a huge inheritance. A fraudster who claims to be a Business Relations Manager from an overseas bank or legal official contacts you through email or a letter stating that a person sharing your family name has died and left behind a vast amount of money. The fraudster suggests that as you share the same family name as the deceased, you can be the beneficiary of the estate and rather than handing any ‘Inheritance Tax’ over to the government you can split the inheritance with the fraudster.
 
The fraudster will emphasise the need for secrecy and warn you not to tell anyone else about the deal. To hurry you into making a hasty decision, they will also stress the need to act quickly. 
 
If you respond to the fraudster, they will ask you to pay various fees – for example: taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc. – so they can release your non-existent inheritance. Each time you make a payment, the fraudsters will come up with a reason why the inheritance cannot be paid out unless you make another payment. If you ask, they will also give you reasons why the fees cannot be taken from your inheritance and have to be paid up front.
 
If you become reluctant to pay a fee or suggest you cannot afford it, the fraudsters will put pressure on you by reminding you how close you are to receiving a sum of money much greater than the fees you’ve already handed over, and of how much you’ve already paid out. The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details so they can pay the inheritance directly into your bank account. If you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters can use them to empty your account.
 
You could be a victim of inheritance fraud if:
 

  • You’ve received an email or letter informing you that someone you may be related to has died without leaving a will and you may be in line to inherit.
  • You’ve paid fees to ‘research specialists’ who offer to sell you an estate report that includes information on the inheritance and how you can claim it.

 
What should you do if you’re a victim of inheritance fraud?
 

  • End all further contact with the fraudsters. Don’t send them any more money. Don’t give them your bank details.
  • If you have already given the fraudsters your bank account details, alert your bank immediately.
  • If you receive any threats from the fraudsters once you have stopped co-operating with them, alert the police immediately.
  • Be aware that you’re now likely to be a target for other frauds. Fraudsters often share details about people they have successfully targeted or approached, using different identities to commit further frauds. People who have already fallen victim to fraudsters are particularly vulnerable to the fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters contact people who’ve already lost money through fraud and claim to be law enforcement officers or lawyers. They’ll advise the victim that they can help them recover their lost money – but request a fee. 

 
Protect yourself against inheritance fraud

Although there are legitimate companies who make a living by tracking down heirs, they do not do it in this way. If you are asked for a fee for a report, it is very likely to be bogus.

Letters/documents provided by the fraudsters are generally badly written. Look out for spelling mistakes and poor grammar.

Beware if you are asked to contact a webmail address such as @Yahoo or @Hotmail. As a rule, legitimate law firms do not use them.

As in most cases of fraud, if the promise seems too good to be true, it most probably is.

  • If you have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

Fake Letterboxes

 The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has noticed an increase in reports of fraudsters placing fake letter boxes on residential properties in an attempt to harvest the mail. Residents are sometimes unaware of the fake letterbox as the fraudsters will periodically remove the item, which may leave notable markings. The mail is then used to open various lines of credit with financial providers in the name of the innocent resident. 

   

Protect Yourself

 

  • Be vigilant and check for any suspicious activity, tampering of your post/letterbox or for suspicious glue markings on the wall.
  • Check all post received from financial institutions, even if it appears unsolicited.
  • Consider reporting theft of mail to your local police force and any cases of identity fraud to Action Fraud.

 

If you have been a victim of identity fraud consider Cifas Protection Registration (https://www.cifas.org.uk/protective_registration_form)

If you, or anyone you know, has been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

Online Shopping Fraud

Online shopping websites are being utilised by fraudsters to advertise vehicles for sale which do not exist. After agreeing to purchase the vehicle via email with the fraudsters, buyers then receive emails purporting to be from Amazon Payments and/or Amazon Flexible Payment Service stating that their money will be held in an ‘escrow account’ (a bank account held by a third party, used as a temporary holding account during a transaction between two parties- for a 7 day ‘cooling off’ period). Once happy with the purchase the email indicates the money will be released to the seller, therefore offering ‘buyer protection’. In reality these emails are fraudulent and do not come from Amazon. The bank accounts are controlled by fraudsters. 

 
Protect yourself

  • Remember that Amazon does not provide an escrow account to purchase items.
  • Meet the seller ‘face to face’ and view the vehicle before parting with any money.
  • Be vigilant of emails that purport to be from genuine companies and check the ‘domain’ name of the email address for any inconsistencies.
  • Check feedback online by searching the associated phone numbers or email addresses of the seller.
  • If the vehicle is below market value consider whether this is an opportunity too good to be true!

 

 

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Fraudulent Cheques

Businesses are being contacted for the sale of goods or services by fraudsters, who request to pay by cheque. The fraudster sends a cheque with a higher value than the amount expected, and then sends the business a request for the difference with instructions on how it should be paid back. This is usually by bank transfer or through a money transfer service, such as Western Union or PaySafe. Once the ‘refund’ has been provided, it is realised that the cheque provided was fraudulent and no funds are credited to the business’s account.
 
The NFIB has seen an increase of 84% in the number of counterfeit cheque frauds reported to Action Fraud since November 2015. Criminals are targeting a wide range of services including paintings or other artwork, photography and lessons, with various amounts requested to be refunded.  The average amount requested to be refunded is £1,818. The highest amount requested was over £80,000.
 
The suspects have used pressure tactics to persuade victims to refund the amounts immediately prior to the cheques clearing.
 
 
Crime Prevention Advice

Be cautious of payments where the amount provided is higher than expected. Refuse to provide the service unless the correct balance is received or wait until the cheque has cleared before refunding the difference.

Always contact banks on a trusted number found on their website or correspondence that is known to be authentic to confirm whether the cheque has cleared.

Do not feel pressured to provide a refund before the cheque has cleared.

 
If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

Advanced Fee Fraud Warning

Action Fraud has been receiving reports of an advanced fee fraud whereby suspects phone a member of the public and claim to be calling on behalf of the UK (or British) Government Grant Department.They go on to state that the individual has won a Good Citizen Award – of typically £8,000 – and that the grant can be released for a fee (of around £210).


Fortunately, very few members of the public have lost any money as a result of this scam but have reported to Action Fraud in order to help build a picture of this fraud and protect others from falling victim to it.

Protect yourself:

  •  There is no genuine ‘Good Citizen Award’ scheme in the UK that operates by cold calling “winners” and asking for an upfront fee to release a grant.
  • If you receive a call that claims to represent such a scheme, it is a scam. End the phone call – do not give out any personal or financial data.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.