Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Legal Thriller Author warns of Scam Artists' Inheritance Fraud--Do Not Make these Deadly Mistakes

--Few scams are more deadly than the inheritance scam, a high-stakes game

An attorney (???) phones you and says, "Allow me to introduce myself. I'm John Lawler, attorney, representing the estate of the recently deceased, Irving Generosis. Your name was mentioned in his last will and testament. Naturally, I must confirm certain things about you, before going any further, to be certain I have the right party. Would you answer a few pertinent questions for me, please?"

At this point your heart is in your throat. You're excited. Who? What? When? Where? you are thinking as you try to calm yourself. Your first thoughts are of inheriting a fabulous house, not considering it's location, that it might be located next to an active volcano. The curiosity to gain more information overwhelms you. "Yes, yes, yes," you blurt out. " Go ahead."

At this stage you should have slowed yourself down, asked yourself something like, if I had everything where would I keep it? Instead, you have just committed your first mistake. You have shoved your big toe into his bear trap.

How should you have reacted?

How about this way: Full name of your law firm, please. Address? Phone number? In what court is this being adjudicated? Address? Phone number? Docket number? In which newspaper was the notice of death posted? Address? Phone number? Date published?

Failing to interject these questions quickly will only invite a probe into your financial identity. You will be required to first spill out your essentials: Full name. Spelling. Address. Phone number. Marital status. Age. Children. (An additional dangle might be hung out here, to make you think your children might also be included.) Possessions: home ownership, motor vehicles, social organization memberships (the beginnings of establishing your affluence--to give the scam artist an initial idea of how much you can be taken for.)

How much further this probe will go from here is up to you. At any point, up to this stage, you can stop it, with probably minimal damage, by insisting on answers to your questions, as outlined. After all, a bird in the hand is dead.

His further questioning would only delve more deeply into your personal status--all the way through to his biggest, sought after prizes, your social security number and bank account number (to, ah, hem, verify your identity, of course).

You are now suspended on the brink of a legal thriller abyss. You might be thinking to yourself, it's hard to make a comeback when I haven't been anywhere. Should I go for this? Maybe, just maybe, I will get a mistaken windfall.

Don't. Pull the emergency chord. Stop the train. Get off. Only if you totaled every car you've ever owned could you be more reckless than sailing for this.

On Sunday, February 4, 2007, Tako Kabayushi, a native of Japan who speaks no English, won the mustard-colored World Championship Belt for eating 53 hot dogs in 12 minutes. This can only show that where there is a will there is a way. Scam artists are strong willed. And, those dedicated to protecting themselves must be, too. Full knowledge of how they operate is the first step.


Warmer said...

Hard to believe. Now they are shaking the money tree from the dead?

Terry said...

I came back to read this article, and I'm glad I did. I have a lawyer I don't really trust...but I guess this is a make-believe lawyer.

Ione Hesber said...

This happened to my cousin, but she asked a lot of questions and I guess she scared the guy off. I was proud of her.

Jack Payne said...

Most insidious part of this scam is the scope of it. It aims for complete identity takeover. And, the size is breathtaking. Many of these con jobs go way up into the millions of dollars.

Gene Kranik said...

Have never been in that situation, but it's good to know what kind of questions to ask if it ever happens. I can see how people falling for this scheme could end up holding a very big empty bag.

W. Rashow said...

I read your book, Six Hours Past Thursday, about the ultimate con man. I was so impressed that I have been looking for similar novels on con men. I can't find any. Your book is sure enough a psycological thriller if ever there was one. It left me with chills.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks, much, W. Rashow. My Six Hours Past Thursday did have great reviews (you can click, at the bottom of each blog article, to see a bunch of these from Amazon) and was generaly heralded as an in-depth psychological thrust--to closely examine what makes a con man tick. I am deeply proud of the book, its acceptance, and think it is, far and away, the best piece of writing I have ever accomplished, of all of my 56 published books.

Cyberpunk said...

To be honest I don't sympathize with scam victims who got tricked not because of ignorance but because of greed.

Like victims of Nigeria scams and this mistaken inheritance scam.

Jack Payne said...

You are right, C.P. It' hard to exude sympathy for those who knowingly participate in a scam.
This is most evident in the diploma mill scams, where the victim is not only fully aware of the fraud, but is usually an enthusiastic participant. Have got a most interesting piece on these diploma mill scams coming up, soon.

Warren W said...

How could these people not be fully aware that their cooperation in providing information is nothing more than their willing participation in a fraud? My heart does not exactly bleed for anyone sucked up into this scam either.

BrentD said...

I hereby grant you the I Have A Pony award for best use of a Steven Wright quote in a serious post.


joderebe said...

I've never heard of this but it is good to know. Considering scam artists take advantage of every life situation out there it isn't hard to believe they would resort to this tactic. I do agree with Cyberpunk though. If you play with the big boys you will most certainly get burned.
As usual, great post Jack.
~JD (The Uneasy Supplicant)

W. Rashow said...

Biggest fear I have is, how do I protect myself from one of these phony, made-up lawsuits.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks, Brent.

J.D., it's surprising how many people have no awareness of this kind of scam, even though it is one of the oldest ones going.

And, W., in a free society anybody can sue anybody. Little protection. About all you can do is get yourself a competent lawyer and fight back.

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