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When it comes to finding out about a legitimate inheritance, initial contact is unlikely to come through your email inbox, says Toronto estates and trusts lawyer Suzana Popovic-Montag.
In one recent situation, an Ontario woman in her 40s believed she was going to collect a $12-million offshore inheritance after receiving a random email.
Instead, police say she was bilked out of more than $200,000 in “fees,” which have not been recovered. Read Toronto Star Story
Popovic-Montag, managing partner at Hull & Hull LLP says that unfortunately, she has heard of these types of scams many times before. “We have been contacted by several people, and even some of our own lawyers have been contacted by email, advising of their inheritance. In our view, we do not believe that any legitimate initial contact would be made at first instance in this manner,” she says.
The reason, she explains, is that email addresses are not public knowledge.
While email scams may not be on the rise, they may simply be replacing more traditional scams, such as those conducted by mail or by phone, says Popovic-Montag.
She cautions people who get an email saying they are set to receive an inheritance not to provide any confidential information.
“If the contact is genuine, they should be able to provide you with information themselves. At a minimum, there should be no ‘tax’ or ‘fee’ associated with such contact or payment of the alleged ‘inheritance,’” she says.
“Someone with expertise in the area of wills and in the proper jurisdiction should be consulted,” she adds.
As a rule, says Popovic-Montag, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. “And if the email address is not specific, but generic in any sense at all, I would recommend against responding,” she says.