ACG-CYBER SECURITY BULLETIN NO 135 UNDERSTANDING ONLINE INHERITANCE SCAM
The following information was obtained from different cyber security sources for notification to all parties concerned pursuant to the mandate of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG).
The information provided was classified as “Restricted” pursuant to the PNP Regulation 200-012 on Document Security and Impact Rating as high based on PNP Information Communication Technology (ICT) Security Manual s.2010-01 p. 22 and p.129.
These scams offer the target or victim false promise of an inheritance to trick them into parting with money or sharing bank or credit card details. A scammer may contact you out of the blue to tell you that you can claim a large inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy benefactor. You may be contacted by letter, phone call, text message, e-mail or social networking message.
The scammer usually poses as a lawyer, banker or other foreign official and claims that the deceased left no other beneficiaries. Sometimes the scammer will say you are legally entitled to claim the inheritance. Alternatively, they might say that an unrelated wealthy person has died without a will, and that you can inherit their fortune through some legal trickery because you share the same last name.
You will be told that your supposed inheritance is difficult to access due to government regulations, taxes or bank restrictions in the country where the money is held, and that you will need to pay money and provide personal details to claim it.
Scammers will go to great lengths to convince you that a fortune awaits if you follow their instructions. They may even send you a large number of seemingly legitimate legal documents to sign, such as power of attorney documents. In some cases you may be invited overseas to examine documents and the money.
You may be introduced to a second or even third scammer posing as a banker, lawyer or tax agent to help facilitate the legal and financial aspects of the transaction.
A fraudster who claims to be a lawyer from overseas or some other legal official sends you an email or a letter. They tell you that a person sharing your family name has died and left behind a vast amount of money.
The lawyer is administering the inheritance and has been unable to identify any of the dead person’s relatives. As a result, the money will go to the government. The lawyer suggests that, because you share the same family name as the deceased, he could pay the inheritance to you. You could then split the money between you, rather than handing it over to the government. If you make a payment, you won’t receive the sum of 'inheritance' money promised to you and you won't get your money back.
The fraudsters will emphasise the need for secrecy and warn you not to tell anyone else about the deal. To hurry you into making a hasty decision, they will also stress the need to act quickly.
However, there is no inheritance and the person contacting you isn’t a lawyer or legal official. The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details so they can pay the inheritance directly into your bank account. But, if you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters can use them to empty your account.
All PNP personnel as well as the public are advised to follow the tips in order to avoid the risk of shylock malware attack, to wit:
- Be careful when befriending strangers online;
- Be wary of unexpected 'fortunes' as these appeals to greed are likely to be a scam;
- Look out for official-looking letters or emails; if you receive these out of the blue, be sure to research the identity of the sender first ;
- Be especially suspicious if the correspondence requests bank account details or further personal information;
- Do not send money to strangers, even if they claim the money will be used to unlock a greater fortune; and
- You should ignore such communications. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For additional information, please refer to the following websites:
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