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Scams And Dead Distant Relatives

Updated on January 8, 2011

Have you ever received an e-mail like the one described in this hub?

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Don't Fall For Them!

Dear Sir/Madam/Pet/Inanimate Object:

I am writing to you today to inform you of some most dreadful and, for you, beneficial news. Your very distant Uncle Aunty of West Beagle Soilville died of a computer virus this past Jantember. In their will, they left $100,000,000.09 to be dispersed among their surviving relatives. I have been looking for you for some time as you are, though extremely distant, their next of kin.

Please contact me with your full name, social security number and bank account number so I can transfer the money into your account as soon as possible.

Most Kind Regards,

Mr. Stelyomonay

At least once a week, I receive an e-mail resembling this one. Someone has died and I’ve been left a ton of money. Though, if you have any common sense, you can tell it’s a scam, there are still people who, for one reason or another, believe such an e-mail to be valid and allow themselves to be swindled out of their life savings.

The first time I received one of these, I seemed to be going to one wake after another. When you come from a family with many elderly and unsafe people, wakes and funerals become the norm. Being eighteen at the time and having just lost my dad, I paid close attention to this e-mail. It read that my distant uncle had died while in Africa and that, not only was I left money, but that my uncle’s lawyer was willing to “dispose of” the body for a percentage of my inheritance. Feeling in my gut that it was a scam, I ignored the e-mail. The following week, I received a second e-mail, this time more urgent. I showed my mom the e-mail and, having just buried my dad and having more common sense than I, she showed me all of the flaws in the e-mail and told me to ignore it. The “lawyer” must have found someone else because I never heard from that person again.

Within a year, I received another e-mail of this type. This time, my distant aunt was gravely ill and, on her behalf, her lawyer e-mailed me asking me to contact him to make arrangements for burial and to receive my inheritance. As one of my aunts was ill with a brain tumor, it really upset me. I wondered how many other people had received this e-mail and if, like me, it had upset them on a personal level.

After Hurricane Katrina, I received multiple e-mails about distant family members who had been killed. Even though their deaths had been sudden, wouldn’t you know they loved me enough to go to a lawyer and get their affairs in order so I could gain from their loss? I love my distant relatives!

Just recently, I received an e-mail informing me that my distant cousin (I guess all of my distant aunts and uncles have all died. How sad!) had been killed in a mysterious accident. Once again, I was the only surviving relative. His lawyer wished to speak with me via phone using a number with enough digits to fill a whole line. If I did not own a phone, I was told that sending an e-mail with necessary personal information would be alright. As it’s been nearly a month, I hope that his lawyer didn’t hold his breath. If he did, I trust that my inheritance will be enough to bury him.

Why do these people use such a tragic event as a means to harm others? True, no one has to reply back. Still, thanks to our current economy, there are desperate people who are willing to take the risk of having their identity stolen if it means they might get some money. I hope that one day these people who setup these scams will receive what they deserve. Until then, wouldn’t it be nice if they thought up another story? Talk about lack of creativity!

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