For many years, many of you must have received emails promising you, in bad French, that you could receive millions of dollars from a rich exiled donor. Of course this is all a fraud, designed to get money out of you. Few people have been fooled by the scam, which was not very subtle.
For many months now, we have seen a more complex scam on the horizon, but above all, one that is more realistic in its approach. The modus operandi is always the same. You receive an email telling you that you might have rights in an estate, and you are given the contact details of a law firm or notary with usually a clickable link. At that point you are taken to a similar site of a large, well established law or notary firm. Unfortunately the site is a decoy set up by the fraudsters. The scam can begin… You are sent, always by e-mail, documents to be signed on the letterhead of the law firm/notary and sometimes even of an estate genealogist. Unfortunately, the only purpose of all this is to get money or personal information from you.
Such practices undermine our profession and the way we work with heirs. There are several steps that probate genealogists must follow in obtaining documents, but one of the most important points is that an heir is never asked to make an advance or to pay a single dollar in order to advance the settlement of an estate. Much less advance any money to have an interest in an estate revealed. If this is the case for you, you are facing an inheritance scam…
If in doubt, contact your notary or your lawyer so that he can make the necessary verifications.