An Irish Inheritance Scam – How To Avoid Being Caught Out

Recently a respected Dublin law firm was contacted by an Australian man who had received a letter, purportedly from them, regarding a potential inheritance.

The scam is similar to what are known as ‘419 scams’ but is slightly more sophisticated as It is quite normal for a probate lawyer usually using a probate genealogist to seek to trace relatives in another jurisdiction who may be the rightful heirs of a deceased person. The letter purports to come from an actual law firm, is personalised with the intended target’s contact details and address and also refers to the estate of the deceased ‘client’ who shares the same surname as the recipient.

It works by getting the supposed beneficiary to pay a small administration fee maybe 40 euro. This has the psychological effect of making the potential beneficiary feel like an accomplice even if they are suspicious, as it is a small amount to pay if the inheritance on offer is millions. It makes the scam seem legitimate as why would anyone go to so much effort for 40 euro? But what the scammer is after is the supposed heirs bank account details. Once these have been supplied in the mistaken belief that some large amount of money will be paid in, the scammer instead empties the supposed beneficiaries account.

Getting the contact details is the easy part. There is a thriving online marketplace on the dark web where email addresses and associated data can be purchased, including comprehensive identity information such as mother’s maiden name and credit card/CCV details.

Of course most people would see through it, which is why the scammers put deliberate mistakes in the letter. It’s what scammers call the ‘clueless filter’. The scammer doesn’t want to waste time on people who are smart enough to see through what they are trying to do, so they filter them out by leaving a trail which the vigilant can detect.

If you receive such an e-mail, do not reply, you will be letting the scammer’s email marketing software know that yours is an active email account. You may also inadvertently pass along metadata in the header of your email response from which the scammer can access the IP location of your computer and resell or repurpose this information with a view to stealing sensitive data from your hard drive and logging data you input into other third party services.

No legitimate probate genealogist will ask for any form of up-front fee. When working on contingency cases Finders International only ever receive a fee when the estate is distributed to the rightful beneficiaries.

If you do receive a communication purporting to come from a law firm or probate genealogist which you think is suspicious, you can report it to the Law Society of Ireland who in turn can warn the general public and liaise with other statutory authorities such as the Garda or Data Protection Commissioner.

Finders International Probate Genealogists (or Heir Hunters) is a firm which can be trusted and has a number of accreditations to put potential beneficiaries minds at ease, including:

  • Membership of PALS (Professional Association of Legal Services)
  • Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and it holds £2m Professional Indemnity Insurance in accordance with FCA requirements
  • ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Data & Information Security Certification
  • Information Commissioners Office – Data protection registration number: Z6654345
  • Finders are a checked and approved firm of The Expert Witness Directory
  • The company are members of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)

Finders International also provide Aviva missing beneficiary insurance, which protects Trustees and Administrators against the unlikely but possible event of an unknown beneficiary emerging after an Estate has been distributed. As agents for AVIVA, Finders International can also obtain Aviva insurance against a Will being found which disinherits heirs who have already been paid, thus safeguarding heir from ever having to repay their inheritance once received.

For further information and advice contact Finders International Irish Office in Dublin on +353 (0)1 691 7252 or email: contact@findersinternational.ie