Inheritance scam in your letterbox

7 August 2008

Thompson & Lawyers, David T Duddias, Thomson & Associates, David Lopez- just some of the names being used by operators based in Spain in unsolicited letters currently landing in Australian letterboxes. The message:

"I am contacting you in regards to a deceased client who died in an auto accident on the Madrid Highway in March 2005, he was a prominent client of mine. He happens to share the same LAST NAME with you."

Irrespective of what your surname is, the allegedly deceased person will have the same last name as you do. On offer is 50% of 22 million dollars ("22million$").

The personal and private nature of this letter has seen Australian consumers reporting significant losses to the ACCC, some up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

Anyone responding to such letters tends to be provided with an official looking death certificate that shows the 'deceased' as having the same surname. After obtaining the certificate, they receive ongoing requests for money for various administration charges, taxes and certificates. They may even be invited to Spain (at their own expense) to verify the offer.

Reports to the ACCC and SCAMwatch indicate that some Australian consumers have met with those behind the letters and were shown what appeared to be genuine documents and a large sum of money.

What to watch out for:

  • A plain white envelope or one with the picture of a woman holding up the scales of justice with the words "Derecho Y Justicia";
  • Spanish postmark or stamp and possibly the word "Correos";
  • The addressee on the envelope with no Mr, Mrs etc; and,
  • Letterhead with the address Pintor Lorenzo Casanova, 66 or similar (this may change with different mailouts).

For more information and warning signs, check out a real inheritance scam letter.

What to do:

  • DO NOT RESPOND!
  • If you are unsure discuss the matter with a lawyer- do not seek advice from anyone recommended by the people who have sent the letter.

Report the matter via the report a scam page in SCAMwatch. If you want to send in your letter, please include the envelope it came in and any other documents and send it to GPO Box 3131
Canberra ACT 2601.

Explore SCAMwatch to find out more about money transfer scams, including inheritance scams, and how you can protect yourself.

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