/ Money

Scam watch: an apparent heir’s big promise

A Which? member recently received a letter claiming to be from a prominent Chinese bank. Are you one of the many people who’s received this near-identical scam?

The letter claims that a customer of the bank has passed away, leaving behind $11m in assets.

Allegedly, the deceased has the same surname as the target, with the letter claiming that, as they left no heir, you stand to inherit half the money, with the bank manager taking the other 50%.

The member who pointed this scam out to us knew it was obviously attempted fraud, but the key concern for them was that they had been targeted using their real name and email address.

Protecting your personal info

Several readers have reported receiving near-identical letters. The common theme? They all have common English surnames, so scammers could well be targeting them for this reason, as it makes their story seem more plausible.

The scammers could have taken the personal information from an open register, so we’d advise people to consider opting out of the open electoral roll or the telephone directory if they’re concerned. Also, regularly check your credit report for unfamiliar products or searches.

Always remember to look out for your family and friends, too. A vulnerable recipient could be tricked into giving away money, personal or financial data.

Want to do more to help fights scams and look out for others? You can sign our scams campaign here, while Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standartds (NTS) site with resources to help spot fraud and warn others.

You can also become a Scam Marshal, collecting scam letters to send to NTS. Mail scams can also be reported to Action Fraud and the Royal Mail.

Have you received this scam letter through the post? If so, did you report it?


I had a similar one from Nigeria. I’d hardly describe it as a scam as the concept is so ludicrous. Access to names and email addresses surely is not a security issue as we distribute them freely to all and sundry when we…..send an email.

Yes malcolm , the Nigerian Scam is well known to US authorities for a decade or so, coming from a Nigerian “Prince ” who wishes to deposit funds in this country to keep it out of the reach of his many wife’s and like worded scams . Its so well known in the States jokes are made about it. I have zero confidence in any initial arrests from those scams unless you are a prominent personality or millionaire. It costs the UK too much money in time and resources and HMG has admitted that. My email scams relate to BT,s leaky BT Mail and US third party contacts because of taking up a new contract with them . We have already had several convos on this subject which achieved ???? Is it not about time “Call-Centre India was taken to task as thats where many UK citizens have complaints against ? But it wont happen –trade talks going on unlike the USA who even send the FBI etc to India to route out the scammers .

Still getting the “BT Email ” scam asking me to click onto a dodgy imitation BT log-in website , if you are reading this BT it doesnt make your email service look good. I am not alone having checked it out on the web , its happening when customers sign up to things from BT sales , some big leak in your sales dept.

I also get the dodgy BT emails and have reported them to BT and Sky (my Broadband provider) with no reaction of any kind. Why BT allow this imitation of their corresondence to continue is beyond me.

Charles , BT dont own BT Mail its an American company , that company uses BT customers & others as “cash cows ” by selling data to third parties in the USA.

For all those annoying websites and services that require “email registration” it can be useful to register with something other than your usual main email address.

For example, I find that that Gmail seems to let me create new email addresses whenever I want.

I still have an email address I set up back in 2004 that has more or less become my ‘spam’ address – I use it for anything I’m not very bothered about but where email registration is compulsory.

You can use E4ward email addresses for that. you can create an email with that stem to let you know with whom you’re using the email. For example

honestronsbookmakers @ e4ward. com (I’ve separated the terms so no one sends email accidentally to it)

That way you know immediately when you start to get spam who’s sold your email address on.

Well bless my soul ! I have been speaking of BT Mail,s “not so good email service ” and the delivery of scam BT emails direct to my inbox . Luckily I have a filter system and added some words from the scammers URL to send them to junk on Thunderbird . BT must have noticed and I now have an email asking me NOT to send BT (genuine ) emails to junk and to add *********** to my address book ( I used BT as part of the filter but the scammers had another word added ) . Who says BT dont watch this website ?

I have received a very convincing email from BT asking for my new mobile no. By coincidence I actually do have a new mobile. WHO’S WATCHING ME? Please BT if you’re reading this; sort it out before we all go mad. I don’t even know if this which site is genuine!! That’s how scary it all is. If I click on an email to try to block a site it doesn’t work.

I see I am not alone Marie , my confidence in BT,s security has dropped sharply and its down to money as when you apply to the sales dept. your details are provided to third parties , normally in the USA .From then on its “normal practice ” for them to scam you . Do you have an email client like Thunderbird ? , if so go into the filter programme and input part of the URL in the “use part of the message ” as a filter . If the URL says BT EMAIL copy that exactly -upper and lower case and confirm that as a filter. Dont put down just BT as then you will not receive genuine emails from BT. Yes its very convincing , those US hackers are getting good , that BT allow this to happen to its customers is disgraceful and a slight on BT itself but its an American company that owns the service and they allow third party interference there. Get back to me if you need help making a filter.

Has anyone had the ‘blackmail’ scam ? Recently I have received several, all sent to my late husband (who died over 4 years ago !). They have some of his more common passwords, and claim to have hacked evidence that he has been accessing porn sites. The ‘ransom’ is about $2000 in Bitcoin, or they will send the ‘evidence’ to all the contacts in his address book, which they claim to have also hacked.
I just forward them on to Action Fraud…

I studied your post for a while before it appeared on Which? wondering what sort of reply to give as this could be controversial in some peoples eyes . You did the right thing forwarding them to Action Fraud. Many attempts over the years have been made by “certain parties ” to get me to click onto porn websites — they all failed . I knew that they wanted leverage against me , they didnt get it and eventually gave up . For the record I have NEVER visited a porn website but this presents a moral problem as a heterosexual male I am naturally attracted to females even so if they were able to log me watching porn online my answer would be —-so what ? -publish and be dammed . I have off-line stored away a long list of MP,s -ex MP,s -famous people- actors/actresses- titled people -millionaires – lawyers- accountants – big -shots in the City doing much worse than look at porn . Where -quote-its not in the publics interest keeps coming up to cover their actions . I have visited many brothels/massage parlours working for BT , spoken to the “workers” , got on well with them because I did NOT judge them , to them its a job and payed many times my wages at the time , living in flash flats in a big city, new cars- top end clothes , jewelry etc. They were very angry at anybody trying to tell them to stop it now. This is real life , not conjecture , maybe,if or buts , if females want to make a lot of money this way –well good luck to them , they weren’t downtrodden , browbeaten etc , very outspoken , very sure of themselves and they were run by females not males.

I have to agree with you here, duncan. Who cares? As long as it does not result in guilt and attempting to cover it up when it might be revealed.

It’s the current scam doing the rounds Just ignore it.

I had a phone call puporting to be from BT Tech Dept which said my computer had too many viruses and my router was corrupted. It did not seem to make a difference which router I had. I was suspicious of course especially as the phone call came up as International, his accent was not a British one and person said he was ringing from London! The phone number was 01260282923 which needs blocking.He said his name was Ben Carlod and his BT Employee ID was 89599. I could hear noise like a call centre. He also put me through to someone called Aaron whose BT ID was 9296895899. Took control of the computer and asked me to download http://www.teamviewer.com to check the bad folders on it. This was taking hours and said they would put BT Anti Virus on my computer which would be free for 3 years and the licence number would be 09457924 and send an engineer round to change my routers ( I have one from Virgin and one from EE). When bad folder report had finished, it said I was due compensation of 304.56. So then said this amount had been put on my account BUT they made ‘a mistake’ and put 5304.56 so wanted me to refund them 4900 (100 was given as a gesture payment). They said not to tell them it was a refund to BT as they could lose their jobs, but to say I was sending money to a ‘friend’ called Alex Paul. Thank goodness my bank would not allow me to do this. The security people rang me and said the 304.56 had been taken from one of my savings accounts at the bank and that I was not the only person these people had tried to scam. Please make people aware of this as I would not like anyone to fall into the same trap I nearly did.

[This comment has been edited to remove personal information. Thanks, mods]

I am sorry here of your problem Judith but I have to say –going by your post that your troubles are not over – this was taking hours – quote. They have deposited trojans.viruses .malware on your Windows 10 computer ,they will require removal by going into Regedit etc and will be deposited all over your computer . You must remove them or get somebody well versed in malware removal as they have now created “open doors ” to your computer . As a matter of fact I advise a re-installation which is what some experts , even Windows recommend . If you want I can take you through it but it is detailed and technical and takes time as well as tracing them . By allowing them access you have overcome the inbuilt virus protection , I would not delay in getting this done .