By Rotimi Onadipe
Inheritance scam is a kind of scam that uses the story of a dead person that left huge amount of money or expensive properties to be claimed by the intended victim.
How it works:
It usually begins with an email, text message, phone call, fax, social networking message or letter sent through courier service from scammers to unsuspecting victims, pretending as lawyers, bankers, law enforcement agents or distant relatives of a famous person.
Scammers may tell the victim that he is legally entitled to huge amount of money, estates, companies, expensive cars, jewelleries etc. Alternatively, they may send some documentary evidence to the intended victim e.g. agreement letters, medical reports, notes of meetings, bank statement, court affidavits, audios, videos, etc to convince the victim that a wealthy or famous person died without a will.
They will try to convince the victim to pay certain amount of money before the money or properties in question are released to him. If the victim makes any payment, they may request for another amount or introduce him to some other scammers.
Many victims of inheritance scams have suffered a lot of psychological and emotional trauma while others committed suicide when all efforts to recover their lost funds proved abortive.
How to spot inheritance scam:
1. It sounds too good to be true.
2. It comes with a sense of urgency.
3. It comes with a promise of gift or money.
4. Watch out for errors in spelling or grammar.
5. Names of famous or wealthy people are used as the name of the deceased.
6. Huge amount of money is involved e.g $5,000,000USD or more.
7. It requests for bank details or other personal information.
8. Persistent calls, emails and text messages from the scammers.
9. It is always backed up with convincing documentary evidences.
10. Initially they tell you it is free but demand for money after you have sent your bank details or other personal information.
Tips to avoid inheritance scams:
1. Be suspicious when you receive unsolicited call, email, letter or text message involving inheritance matter.
2. Don’t believe everything you see online no matter how interesting or pathetic the story is.
3. If the story sounds too good to be true, don’t respond.
4. Be secretive about your personal information when you are on social media.
5. Be careful when you are discussing your success story with people.
6. Don’t send your personal or sensitive information to people.
7. Don’t send money to anyone to claim a gift or money.
8. If in doubt, contact a professional for proper counseling.
9. Don’t click on strange link.
10. Use common sense.
Rotimi Onadipe writes from: firstname.lastname@example.org