It is probably a sign of the tight economic times that we are seeing an increase in the number and variety of scams where people are dishonestly trying to get your money. As a general rule, if the offer seems too good to be true then it probably is.

It is better that you adopt a cautious attitude and don’t give any information to suspected scam artists in the first place than be in a position of trying to fix the problem after you have given them your details. An example of a scam seen recently was that a client received a letter from a person claiming to be a solicitor from the United Kingdom who said he was acting on behalf of an Estate and was trying to locate distant relatives who would be entitled to receive money from the Estate. The so called solicitor had gone to some trouble to prepare a letter which looked to be “official” and had also set up an impressive website so as to appear to be a solicitor. However, when we made enquiries with The Law Society in that country, we found out that this person was not a solicitor at all.

Another example of a scam seen recently was when a client received a phone call in regard to a syndicate he had bought into a number of years ago, which appeared on the face of it to be legitimate because the client had bought into that syndicate. The client was told that a new company now owned that syndicate and that there was a large amount of money payable to the client but that he had to pay some “fees” beforehand. Again, this turned out to be a scam.

It is best to try and independently check the bona fides of any such organization. You can try and cross reference them by, for instance, seeing if they have an ad in the printed Yellow Pages book or by searching on Google, etc. Often a telltale sign is that the scam artists do not provide a physical address or a location.

Our advice is that you should always approach such offers from a conservative, if not cynical, point of view.