Scam letter sent to deceased resident at rest home address

By Kristin Edge

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A letter promising nearly US$5 million to a resident at a Northland rest home who died three years ago raised concerns with the manager who wants to warn others of the scam.

Shalom Aged Care manager Chris McFarlane received the letter at the Kensington property and became immediately suspicious when she saw the name it was addressed to.

"The resident involved has been deceased nearly three years, so when a letter for her arrived, with no return address, I opened it so as I could obtain an address to return it to," Ms McFarlane said.

"I felt it was unusual for an official looking letter to have no return address and felt it might be some kind of scam. We want to warn other vulnerable people living in the community about these letters."

The letter is from a Mr Hairz Scalise who said he was sending the letter from Portugal even though the address for the business Scalise Law Firm and Associates states Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Mr Scalise said he obtained the mailing information through the "world public records" and was searching for relatives of David Jack, who had passed away and left US$9.5 million in an offshore bank account.

"I will prepare every relevant document that will assist your claims and facilitate the release of the fund to you," Mr Scalise said. "Note the transaction is 100% risk free. Once the fund is released to you, we will share in the the ratio of 50% for me, 50% for you as your benefit."

He asks the person to reply via email or call on the numbers provided.

Manager of consumer protection at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Mark Hollingsworth, said the letter appeared to have the characteristics of an estate scam.

"Estate scams follow the same basic premise: scammers contact you to say a long lost relative has died and as you have been identified as the next of kin. You have inherited a large sum of money, but first you have to pay legal fees to the scammers," Mr Hollingsworth said.

"Of course, there is no long-lost relative or inheritance, and once you've paid the legal company will disappear - along with your money."

He recommended not responding to such letters - not even as a joke - as it confirms your address, making you a repeat target for fraudsters.

"Throw the letter away or delete the email immediately, and report it to Scamwatch."

- Northern Advocate

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