Q553: I have received an email/letter/call from someone telling me that: (1) I am going to inherit some money (2) I have won a lottery (3) I can make money if I use my bank account to transfer some funds (4) a dating agency friend (who I haven't met) wants urgent funds for hospital bills/to come live in the UK/other desperate reason - what should I do?
This is almost certainly a scam and you should delete or ignore the communication. There are different versions of scams and you must remember- if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Below are some examples of the methods scammers may use:
- 'Phishing' is the term used for a scam that attempts to induce you to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit cards numbers. In the case of a dating agency, it is preying on people who are lonely and want friendship. For any similar scenario, if you are asked for and give money (and it is a scam), it is unlikely you will ever see your money again.
- Telling you that you are a long lost relative of a recently deceased person, you have been chosen to inherit a large amount of money from a person who does not have any living relatives.
- Lottery scams may ask you to pay out in order to receive your winnings. No real lottery company would ask you to pay a fee before being able to claim your prize nor are large amounts of money handed out randomly. If you receive an email and it is not genuine, do not respond.
- Informing you that your computer has been hacked and you need to pay a 'ransom' in Bitcoin . Further information on, and examples of this can be found in related information.
- You may receive a letter purporting to be from the police confirming the authenticity of a letter regarding a lottery win. The police do not authenticate commercial organisations.
To protect yourself from scammers, here are some useful tips:
- If you were a long lost relative it is unlikely that the executors would make contact with you via email.
- Is the phone number a mobile? A mobile call using a UK number can be made from anywhere in the world.
- Solicitors and executors of wills do not just hand over large sums of money without very thorough checks.
- Payment for the execution of a will comes out of the deceased person's estate, not from the people likely to receive a bequest.
It is better to thoroughly check out the situation rather than pay out a large sum of money on the basis of an email, electronic message, letter or phone call. Remember:
- NEVER give out your personal details, bank account details or send any money to anyone who sends you such a communication, unless you are satisfied it is genuine. Many people have been defrauded out of a lot of money.
- No matter how official it sounds check it out using a totally independent source.
- They may lie about being based in the UK as this may make the scams seem more believable.
- The addresses used are fake or reputable names of companies but with the wrong number.
Scam emails can be reported directly to Action Fraud, please see the link in related information.