Inheritance Scam Letter

We have received a complaint from a Suffolk resident who received the following scam inheritance letter.

Inheritance fraud is when you are told that someone very rich has died and you’re in line to receive a huge inheritance.

A fraudster who claims to be a lawyer from overseas or some other legal official sends you an email or a letter. They tell you that a person sharing your family name has died and left behind a vast amount of money.

The lawyer is administering the inheritance and has been unable to identify any of the dead person’s relatives. As a result, the money will go to the government. The lawyer suggests that, because you share the same family name as the deceased, he could pay the inheritance to you. You could then split the money between you, rather than handing it over to the government.

The fraudsters will emphasise the need for secrecy and warn you not to tell anyone else about the deal. To hurry you into making a hasty decision, they will also stress the need to act quickly.

However, there is no inheritance and the person contacting you isn’t a lawyer or legal official.

ZHU inheritance Scam


Dear [name]

I am MR ZHU Qi, Business Relations Manager for China Construction Bank in Hong Kong.  I have asking a friend who go to United Kingdom to post this letter on my behalf, due to the fact that our appointed Hier Tracers have reached a dead end on the matter.  I am get in touch with you regard the estatte of a deceased client with similar last name and an investment placed under our bank management.  I would respectfully request that you keep the content of this mail confidential and respect the integrity of information you come by as result of this mail.  I contact you independently and no one is informed of this communication.

In 2002, a gentleman by the name of [name] came to our bank to engage in business investment with our private banking division.  He inform us that he have financial portfolio of $17,370 million United States Dollars, which he wish to have us invest on his behalf. We spun the money around various opportunities and made attractive margin for our first months operation, the accrued profit and interest stood at this point at over 18million USD. In mid2004, he instructed that the principal sum ($17,370M) be liquidated because he needed to make an urgent investment requiring cash payment in Beijing.  We got in touch with a specialist bank in China, Xiamen International Bank, who agreed to receive this money for a fee and make cash available to Mr [name].  However Xiamen International Bank got in touch with us last year that this money has not been claimed.  On further enquiries we found out that [name] was involved in an accident in Mainland China, which means he died intestate.  He has no next of kin, as we have been searching through appointed Heir Tracers and the reason I am writing you is because you are namesake.

What I proposing is that since I have access to his file, you will be made the beneficiary of these funds.  Xiamen International Bank will contact you informing you that money has been willed to you.  On verification, which will be the details I make available to China Construction Bank, Xiamen International will be instructed to make payments to you after all necessary verification and application is done.

I know this might be a bit strange for you but please trust me on this.  For all your trouble I propose that we split the money into half.  In the banking circle this happens many times.  The other option is that the money will revert back to the state.  Nobody gets hurt; this is a lifetime opportunity for us.  I hold the key to these funds.  Here in Hong Kong we see so much cash and funds being re-assigned always.  I would like us to keep communication for now by the above telephone and email.

Please, I am a family man but I know that nothing ventured is nothing gained.  Do not betray me confidence.  If we can be in agreement, we should act quick on this.  Please get back to me as soon as possible.

I await a reply, many thank you.


If you respond to the fraudsters, they’ll ask you to pay various fees – for example: taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc. – so they can release your non-existent inheritance.

Each time you make a payment, the fraudsters will come up with a reason why the inheritance can’t be paid out unless you make another payment. If you ask, they will also give you reasons why the fees can’t be taken from your inheritance and have to be paid upfront.

If you become reluctant to pay a fee or suggest you can’t afford it, the fraudsters will put pressure on you by reminding you how close you are to receiving a sum of money much greater than the fees you’ve already handed over, and of how much you’ve already paid out.

The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details so they can pay the inheritance directly into your bank account. But, if you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters can use them to empty your account.

Are you a victim of inheritance fraud?

  • You’ve received an email or letter informing you that someone you may be related to has died without leaving a will and you may be in line to inherit.
  • You’ve paid fees to ‘research specialists’ who offer to sell you an estate report that includes information on the inheritance and how you can claim it.

What should you do if you’re a victim of inheritance fraud?

  • Report it to Action Fraud.
  • End all further contact with the fraudsters.
  • Don’t send them any more money.
  • Don’t give them your bank details.
  • If you have already given the fraudsters your bank account details, alert your bank immediately.
  • If you receive any threats from the fraudsters once you have stopped co-operating with them, alert the police immediately.
  • Be aware that you’re now likely to be a target for other frauds. Fraudsters often share details about people they have successfully targeted or approached, using different identities to commit further frauds.
  • People who have already fallen victim to fraudsters are particularly vulnerable to the fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters contact people who’ve already lost money through fraud and claim to be law enforcement officers or lawyers. They’ll advise the victim that they can help them recover their lost money – but request a fee.

Protect yourself against inheritance fraud

  • Although there are legitimate companies who make a living by tracking down heirs, they don’t do it in this way. If you’re asked for a fee for a report, it’s very likely to be bogus.
  • Letters/documents provided by the fraudsters are generally badly written. Look out for spelling mistakes and poor grammar.
  • Beware if you are asked to contact a webmail address such as @Yahoo or @Hotmail. As a rule, legitimate law firms do not use them.
  • A legitimate law firm is highly unlikely to pay out an inheritance to someone who isn’t entitled to it. Any offer of a payout indicates that someone is up to no good.
  • Fraudsters often claim that the person who has died was the victim of a well-publicised incident, such as a plane crash. To add credibility, they may even use the identity of someone who really did die in the incident.

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.

About suffolktradingstandards
Suffolk Trading Standards is working towards creating and fair and safe trading environment. By creating empowered consumers, that are armed with the knowledge to stop 'rogue traders'.

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