Warning over inheritance pay-out scam
PUBLISHED: 17:15 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:15 28 February 2020
Suffolk Trading Standards has warned households to beware of scam letters being sent to homes in the county promising millions of pounds in inheritance.
The letter, which claims to be from a genuine bank in China, says the recipient could take a share of more than $40million following the death of an oil magnate with the same name.
Although it doesn't ask outright for the victim's bank account details, experts say replying to the email listed at the bottom of the letter would pave the way for scammers to gain their trust before tricking them into handing over personal information.
One recipient, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "I know you receive these sorts of things over email, but never in the post.
"I don't know how it is people get your address but obviously they can gain access to public records.
"I immediately knew it was a scam, I just hope people don't really fall for this nonsense."
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Online, the tactic is commonly known as a "419 scam", and can take different forms - including inheritance scams such as with the letter, but also by using romance as a ploy to gain victims' bank account details.
A spokesman for Suffolk Trading Standards said he has not seen this particular letter before, but that similar letters have been seen in Suffolk in recent years.
The spokesman added: "Sadly, this person is likely to be one of thousands of people across the country who have received a similar letter recently.
"Such letters can be very convincing and look genuine, but there are often red flags which mean it will be a scam. Things like spelling mistakes, poor English and unusual email addresses are obvious indications, but most notably the fact that the letter has come out of the blue.
"Elderly and vulnerable people are often most at risk to falling for these scams. We can help each other by keeping an eye on friends and family, and noticing if they are receiving unusually high volumes of post, or have a lot of post lying around the house."
Those who receive suspected fraud letters in the post are advised to report it immediately to Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 and Royal Mail.
The Suffolk Trading Standards spokesman added under no circumstances should the letters be replied to, and should be shredded after being reported.
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