The scammers are sending letters to grieving family members as they tie up loose ends such as paying outstanding bills, dividing up possessions and signing official paperwork to get the grant of probate.
The letters typically request the payments of relatively small amounts of several hundreds of pounds which has less chance or raising suspicion and duping unsuspecting victims.
One typical scam letter sent out to a family requested a sham debt of £420 be settled. The fraudsters were posing as a legitimate practice. The firm has been writing to those targeted by the scam warning them not to pay, saying “the letter has not been generated by our company and is fraudulent… we will not be chasing you for any money.”
The fake claim targets the executors of a deceased estate towards the end of the claim period in the hope of getting through without anyone checking and reliant on the executors needing to pay off the deceased’s debts.
When fulfilling the obligation to pay the deceased’s debts, executors should check that the debt is actually genuine before they pay it and double check the payment details to ensure that the payment is going to the right place.
Executors, who are often adult children appointed by their parents in Wills, or family friends, are more at risk of being caught out.
Scammers have a constantly updating database of victims to target as almost all deaths are recorded in local Gazettes and their contact details are there in print.