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Got a letter about a "big inheritance?" It's a scam.

People are getting letters in the mail from a law firm saying that one of their clients has died and they’re looking for the heir. You are, they say, that heir! (Spoiler alert: you’re not.) The letter goes on to explain their offer: they want to split the proceeds between you, some charities, and their law firm. But what’s really going on?

This is not a lawyer — it’s a scammer. That’s the most important thing to know. But the letter sounds convincing, explaining that the firm has tried to contact family members. No heir, they say, has come forward to collect the multi-million-dollar life insurance policy or inheritance. It might be tempting to reply, just to see if you really can get some of the money. But that’s where the scam kicks in. If you contact them, they’ll try to get your personal and financial information, like your Social Security or bank account numbers, your money — or all of the above. Oh, and that life insurance policy or inheritance? It doesn’t exist at all. It’s a scam.

Here’s what to do if you get one of these letters:

  • Don’t respond. Keep your money and information to yourself. Never send money or information to a stranger who promises big rewards. That’s always a scam.
  • Pass this information on to a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of letters. But you also probably know someone who could use a friendly reminder that these are scams.
  • Report it to the FTC at

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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July 08, 2024

Thank you!

Lisa Dykes
July 08, 2024

I got a email Tuesday about a long lost relative scam, he called me a foreigner, I told him I was born in California.i told him to stop contacting me

Kathy Mellberg
July 08, 2024

So appreciate being informed about these scams. Just when you think you are savvy enough to spot one, out comes this convincingly scam.
Thank you keeping us posted as it is dangerous out there.

July 08, 2024

Thank you for sending this out to alert the public. We have received that letter twice now (both were reported to the FTC), although I knew it was a scam right away just on the typos alone, I also know people who have fallen for scams such as these and its heartbreaking.

lynn stinsman
July 08, 2024

Thank you

July 08, 2024

know your relatives.