Inheritance Scams are becoming all too common, how can you avoid the pitfalls

31 · Mar · 2021

The Old Inheritance Scam, Rebooted; Top Tips to Avoid Falling Victim

In a recent example of how sophisticated some scams are becoming, it was Western Australia’s Attorney General, John Quigley, whose identity was stolen by scammers in an attempt to defraud a number of people and businesses.
Emails were sent from an account purporting to be Mr Quigley, claiming that the Attorney General was representing a deceased person who died without a Will, leaving an estate in excess of $5.5 million. You might be thinking, well this is a common scam – I have received this call or email on numerous occasions and just chose to ignore it. But have you received such an email from what credibly appeared to be the Attorney General, from what appeared to be an official email account which then led you to a sophisticated website of fake law firm ‘JR Quigley Legal’? 

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping says beneficiary scams where the scammer masquerades as a lawyer are fairly common, and if people respond, what usually follows are ‘requests for your personal information, such as copies of passport and drivers licence, and continual requests for payment for legal fees or taxes in order to be able to access the funds’.

Ms Chopping offers the following tips to protect yourself and your business from beneficiary scams:

  1. Never respond to unsolicited emails claiming to be able to obtain you money through some sort of inheritance or beneficiary scam;
  2. Never send money or give credit card, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust;
  3. Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for upfront payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way;
  4. Do an internet search using the names, contact details or exact wording of the letter/email to check for any references to a scam – many scams can be identified this way; and
  5. Seek advice from an independent professional such as a lawyer, accountant or financial planner if in doubt.

If you are ever in doubt in relation to any matter pertaining to a deceased estate, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Vitalis Legal.

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