Watch out for this inheritance scam

9 April 2009
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Perhaps it’s a result of the credit crunch, but no less than four Moneywise readers have been contacted by fraudsters in recent months, all peddling the same old scam. It’s a well-worn bit of trickery but it’s cheap to operate, so it could be that even crooks are having to watch their pennies nowadays.

Jane from North Yorkshire received a letter from David Johnson Jr, supposedly a lawyer in Spain. He wrote: “I am contacting you in regards to a deceased client who died in an auto accident in Madrid in March 2005. He happens to share the same last name with you.”

According to Johnson, the dead man left US$22 million and no known relatives, so if Jane poses as his next of kin, Johnson will do the necessary paperwork and they can split the cash 50/50.

But, by a curious coincidence, Mr S from Bicester has received a virtually identical letter, this time from a David Thomson Jr. He also claims to be a Spanish lawyer – and he also lost a client in a car crash in March 2005. And guess what? His client also left US $22 million and no known relatives, but this time he had the same surname as Mr S, who is also offered half the loot if he poses as the next of kin.

Mr S doesn’t have a particularly common surname, but it must be an unlucky one. As well as news of a dead ‘relative’ in Spain, he has also received a letter from Chi-Sing Cheung, who says he is a manager with the Industrial Bank of China, informing Mr S of the death of yet another namesake in a fatal accident in mainland China. Cheung says his Mr S left an unclaimed US $8 million – and he makes the same 50/50 offer.

Annette in Worcestershire has been more fortunate. No namesakes are dead, but she has received an odd email from Thomas James Jr, who claims to be a barrister in Benin in Africa.

He thanks her for her advice concerning the transfer of a huge sum of money out of Benin – advice that she never gave, of course – and says he has deposited a bank cashier’s cheque for US $950,000 with a courier company. If she contacts the company, the cheque is hers.

The fourth Moneywise reader is me. I’ve been contacted by the exotically named Humber Vanbeeks, who gives a British mobile phone number and claims to be “the attorney of late millionaire mogul Mr Daniel Blackett, who was assassinated by unknown assailants in his UK residence four years ago”.

According to Vanbeeks, his client deposited millions of pounds to build an estate to house orphans and drug addicts. Leaving aside this illogical mix of beneficiaries, Vanbeeks says his client’s family cannot be traced, so why don’t I step into their shoes?

In fact, a businessman named Daniel Blackett was killed in Surrey in 2004. But it took just a few minutes to find that he left a mother, a grandmother, a partner and three children. Perhaps I should put them in touch with Humber Vanbeeks.

Of course, all these approaches are completely bogus. There is no pot of gold – there’s not even a rainbow. Anyone who replies will slowly be milked for as much money as they can be persuaded to hand over. It will start with a small sum for courier’s charges or to pay some bill the deceased overlooked; then there will be legal fees; then taxes; and then a bribe to ensure someone does not block the whole deal.

Some folk have a lot of fun with fraudsters like this – they reply, asking meaningless questions, raising fictitious problems, and even offering to marry the crook so the money will not have to be split up. This is amusing as long as you stay safe, but the safest thing of all is to simply ignore them.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I received today (16 March 2019) a similar letter from a Ronald Delgado purporting to be from Citi Group Inc. Texas who says that a Mr J B Sexton has left $5,600,000 and that their is no heir Further that he could guide me through process of making me the heir and I get 40% of this fund. Very similar to the other comments posted and I guess he'd soon ask for some money up-front to facilitate etc. Looks very like a scam!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I received a letter, dated 7th January 2019, from a Mr Alberto Johnson, purportedly an employee of Citi Group inc, Texas along the same lines. It stated that a person with the same surname had died in 2008 with no known relatives leaving some $5,600,000 in a safe account overseas. He offered to guide me through the claims procedure if I set up an account to receive the funds and he would give me 40% of the proceeds.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I received an inheritance scam letter from Mr. Alberto Johnson of Citi Group Inc. in Texas. Almost identical to letters on your website. Late Mr. J.B.Butcher died. Floating account since 2008. $5.6m dollars. No living relatives. My surname is same, blah, blah, blah, etc. etc. etc. If not claimed by me, money will convert to company and benefit shareholders. Very convincing letter!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Like all the other Sextons here, I too have been contacted, with a letter dated 7th March, by Mr Ronald Delgado of Citi Group Inc. Texas USA., about the sad death of Mr J.B.Sexton, who left behind a pot of $5,600,000 - 40% of which can be mine.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I also received a letter today, 19th March, from the same Ronald Delgado informing me that Mr. JB Sexton had died in 2008. An account has been discovered for exactly the same amount, as mentioned on the letter to Barry, of $5,600,000. This information is confidential and could I partner with Ronald and stand in as the next of kin. He will be behind the scene to guide me on how to apply for the release of the funds. I will be required to set up a new account and for my trouble will receive 40% of the fund after the transaction.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It would appear that I have today,19/03/19, received the exact same letter that previous correspondent Barry Sexton received regarding Mr J B Sexton (deceased).

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

YepJust got the same letter

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

I too revived a letter from his man today telling me that a Mr J M Mogridge has died. He said he was from citi group in texa USA, so I am very shocked that the letter managed to get to me seeing half my address was missing and no airmail postage was on envelope!! Honestly if they are going to scam do it properly idiots!!!

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

Same letter

I received an identical letter

In reply to by Kelly (not verified)

Inheritance Letter

I received a letter in the post this morning, opened it up as it looked official. But as soon as he mentioned my late J.B.Durston.
I knew it was a scam straight away, reason I know this for a fact is,there has never been a J.B in the entire family history.
Nice try but your not fooling anybody here!!!
Properably another Nigerian trying to get to my money...

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

I received an identical…

I received an identical letter! Crazy to think they actually get away with stuff like this...

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

Citi Group Inc Texas

I received the exact same letter from Citi Group Texas claiming there was no heir but I could inherit 40% since I share the same last name. Looked like a scam because the letter was dated for 3 weeks after I received it plus there was no company header/footer. It all looked very homemade.

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

Same letter

I ve received the same letter from the same person on 30st of September. It’s funny , just ignored it and searched on google that I found you with the same issue.

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

Got the same.

I got exactly the same letter, only with my surname.

In reply to by Barry Sexton (not verified)

Ronald Delgado

He wrote to me too... posing as auditor from City Group Inc Texas, with the exact same story.
Let us all beware!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Also received a letter from Alberto Johnson offering to split $5.6 million, have shredded letter.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A letter to Kirk Armstrong dated 15/01/19 was posted(Royal Mail - pre paid postage Licence number HQ2320) to my sister's address in Derby saying it's from Hong Kong trying to persuade the addressee to claim to be a long lost relative & they could split the $9,830,000 between them. Do they really think people are that daft?

In reply to by William Swindells (not verified)

I received the same letters like you...

In reply to by William Swindells (not verified)

Amazing coincidence, I…

Amazing coincidence, I received the same letter for a person who died in my family in the same year, with the same initials, leaving the same amount, who'd have thought such a thing could happen!

Inheritance Letter

Just received the Ronald Delgado letter today dated 22nd August!

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