Dodgy inheritance letter sent by Nigerian scammers
A Northern Rivers couple has received a letter promising them millions from the inheritance of a Spanish business magnate who mysteriously died in an earthquake in China.
But the couple, who did not wish to be named, opted not to respond to the letter because it was obviously a fake.
Instead they passed on the letter to The Northern Star to warn others about the colourful scam lest anyone else receive a similar document in the mail.
It is addressed from a man claiming to be a Spanish lawyer, Fargas Eduardo, who says he tracked down the couple's name while searching for a last name similar to that of his deceased client.
Mr Eduardo claims his late client was a Spanish "busines magnate" who died in the Sichuan earthquake on May 12 2008 while on holidays.
He "humbly apologises" for the unsolicited letter but insists it is urgent.
"Before the suddden death of my late client, he deposited the sum of $7.2 million with a bank here in Spain.
"As the attorney... the financial institution has contacted me to present a member of his family (heir/inheritor) to make claim of the fund or the fund will be confiscated as unclaimed in accordance with existing deposit laws."
He goes on to claim a "diligent" search for his late client's relative was a failure. Instead, he writes to the couple, "my proposal to you is to present you as the heir".
"Though, I know you may not be anyway (sic) related to my late client, taking into account that you have a common surname is a positive factor as it can be considered a common geneaology.
"This means that the proceeds of his bank account would be paid to you as his next of kin or the legitimate beneficiary."
Here's the catch - since the couple are being invited in on a scam - a scam within a scam - they would need to share 50% of the proceeds with the cunning Mr Eduardo.
He claims the transaction is "100% risk free", and there is "no atom of risk connected to this business".
"All the legal documents to back up your claim as my client's next-of-kin would be produce(d) by the Court."
He invites them to make contact via an email address, before throwing in some gravitas by writing that he is on "offical assignment" in France, but "should be back to Spain soon".
A Google search for "Fargas Eduardo scam" found a link to a site, belegal.com, which suggested the scam was Nigerian in origin:
"Foreigners should be well-advised that there are many scammers trying to pass themselves off as legitimate Spanish law firms and lawyers," the site said.
"They prey exclusively on foreigners and are in fact not Spanish themselves.
"They are mostly Nigerian (lately there's a surge of British and Irish citizens involved too).
"It is calculated there are over 300,000 Nigerians worldwide scamming people. The golden rule is they never scam nationals of the country in which they live in.
"So Nigerians located in Spain (Madrid, Málaga and Granada) scam everyone except Spanish themselves. Nigerians are among the best educated elite in Africa and their command of English is often superb.
Unsolicited mail or phone call
"These fraudsters will contact you by a cold-call, e-mail or letter offering you either of the following 'services':
1.- As the only beneficiary of a Spanish inheritance from some distant (and unknown) relative in Spain that has passed away.
2.- Offering to recover resale time share deposits in ongoing court proceedings (Reclaim Certificates). They will offer you "group actions" against timeshare companies through cold-calls. Ask them how they obtained your contact details and the details of your timeshare investment. Remember that legitimate Spanish law firms never cold-call potential clients.
3.- Notifying you that you have won the Spanish Lottery (despite never having played it) as a promotion from the generous Lotto Administration.
4.- Contacting you regarding using your bank account, in exchange for a commission, for some million dollar bank transfer with origin in some dodgy place in Africa. This is known as the Nigerian Letters.
5.- Offer to assist in verification and payment of unclaimed funds of which you are the beneficiary.
6.- Acting as intermediaries in car sales at very reduced prices. They will request you deposit the funds in their lawyer's account."