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You can’t cash in on a stranger’s life insurance policy — even if a lawyer says you can. The FTC has heard reports from people in Korean, Vietnamese, and Latino communities who got letters in the mail from a supposed “lawyer” in Canada. The letter looks like it’s from a law firm and offers an “easy way” to get money using someone else’s life insurance policy. But it’s a scam. Here’s how to spot it.
In the letter, the “lawyer” says they have a deceased client with an unclaimed life insurance policy worth millions. Because you (supposedly) have the same last name and nationality as the deceased, the “lawyer” can add your name to the policy and split the money between you, their law firm, and a charity. All you have to do, they say, is keep this information secret and email them immediately.
So what’s really happening here? There is no lawyer. It’s a scammer. And if you email them, they’ll ask for personal information. Or money. Or both. And that life insurance payout? It doesn’t exist.
If you get one of these letters:
- Don’t respond. Never share your information with someone who contacts you and says they need it. And never send anyone cash or pay with gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency.
- Share this information with a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of letters. But you may know someone who could use a friendly reminder to help them spot the scam.
- Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your report makes a difference: by telling your story to the FTC and to others in your community, you help others avoid the scam.
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The incredibly huge red flag that people never notice is that neither their name, or the name of the "deceased", are never mentioned in the letter/email. All they see is $$$.
This scam has been circulating for years. We received a fax in our office that said this same thing because one of our attorneys had the same last name as a deceased, and he could potentially make millions. I threw the fax out.
Perhaps it would be helpful to let the public know that in order to make a claim as a beneficiary of an insurance policy, you would have to fill out a form provided by the insurance company and provide proof that you are the beneficiary who is listed in the policy. I think usually the beneficiary reaches out to the insurance company.
Not I never get a letter about that.