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Inheritance Schemes Steal From Supposed Heirs



Beneficiary Scammers Embezzle Identities and Funds

Anchorage, Alaska – Aug. 18, 2009 – Impersonating a dying person or estate handler, scammers are luring consumers with claims of inheritance money to steal funds and identities.

Your Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns that businesses and consumers are receiving enticing claims in letters and faxes. Usually, a person claiming to be an estate handler, banker, auditor or lawyer informs that you're the next of kin to a deceased person that left behind a large sum of money. In other cases, communications come from a source claiming to be a sick or dying person who needs assistance carrying out last wishes with their money.

Consumers are asked to pay fees and provide personal information in advance, then never receive the funds, or receive stolen money which they have to inevitably repay to the rightful owner. Most of the time, these scams come from other countries and will ask to only correspond through e-mail; otherwise, consumers will be forced to make expensive calls overseas to communicate.

Your BBB warns:

- Protect personal information. Never give birth dates, Social Security and bank accounts numbers or other personal information to anyone contacting you through an unsolicited letter, fax, e-mail or phone call.

- Protect your finances. Do not correspond with anyone who asks for upfront fees or requests that funds be forwarded to another party before you can receive an inheritance. In legitimate cases, required fees are taken out of the inheritance before it is sent to the heir.

- Dispose of inheritance scam information. Throw away or shred scam inheritance letters and faxes. Delete e-mails and do not click on any links; as they may contain viruses, malware, or links to Web sites that request personal information.

- Be suspicious of too good to be true offers. If you think the offer may be real, speak to relatives to find out if there has been a family death in the specified location. Research the company or individual the letter comes from. Confirm that the person contacting you actually works for the alleged company. In legitimate cases, do not provide personal information until the source can provide legal documents proving you are an heir. Don't be discouraged from seeking a second opinion and researching the offer.

- Check out businesses. Get a free BBB Reliability Report at www.bbb.org.

If you become a victim or receive communications from an inheritance scam artist, report it to the Attorney General's Office at 269-5200 or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at http://postalinspectors.uspisgov.


About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. The BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at www.bbb.org.

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