/ 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.

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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]

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