These scams all involve a criminal contacting you by email, phone or letter to try to get money from you.

  • Inheritance scam – you'll be told that you're the heir to a substantial sum of money from a long lost relative overseas, but the money's tied up due to unpaid taxes, or something similar, where fees must be paid to release the money. They may even provide you with 'authentic' documentation as proof the inheritance is genuine, and may ask for funds to be sent to them via money transfer agents like Western Union or Money Grams.
  • Lottery scam – you'll be told you've won a large sum of money in a lottery (often in Spain or elsewhere in Europe). The latest approach is to make contact and advise that you've won some money, but not enough to justify them sending it to you. Instead, they'll offer to invest the money in more lottery tickets, then call back and advise that those tickets have won you a prize of millions. They may send you false documentation to support their claims. They'll then ask you to send money.
  • Charity scam – the offender will tell you they're fundraising for someone who's unwell and requires a sum of money for lifesaving medical treatment, or in response to a natural disaster, or any other type of fundraising for those in need. The offender may say they have money but it's tied up in legal proceedings and they need funding to have it released or to sort the legal matter. They say the money will be returned to you once theirs is released, which never happens.

How to protect yourself

  • If you haven't physically met either the person you're sending the money to or the person that's passed away, don't send any money
  • Ask yourself: did I know about this lottery? Did I buy a ticket? If not, don't send any money
  • Only give money to well established and well known charities. If you're not sure if you've heard of them, do some research – including checking the Charities Register.

You can contact your bank's fraud team if you have any questions.