The scam, which is reported to be increasing this year, involves fraudsters studying the death notices and then contacting family members pretending to be from a firm of notaires.
Typically they will say that the person has been found to have been left money in an assurance vie policy – however they will claim that they need to send substantial amounts of funds in order to ‘unblock’ the amount they are entitled to.
Alarm bells should ring if anything of this kind happens to you; there is no need for large sums to be paid to ‘unblock’ AV payments, and genuine notaires will not request it.
In the usual scam the victims are contacted by telephone and, as well as money, they may be asked to supply various personal details. Again, a real notaires’ firm would not telephone out of the blue and make such requests.
Sometimes a real notaires’ firm’s name will be given, as part of the scam, gendarmes warn.
Regional paper Ouest France, notes a particular rise in the Pays de la Loire area, reporting that there were 15 reports of such incidents last year and 26 so far this year.
One victim reportedly handed over €7,000 while another paid as much as €20,000 in several payments after the fake notaire claimed that the money they were owned had turned out to be greater than previously estimated.
If you are contacted unexpectedly by alleged notaires, do not give any money or personal details.
If in any doubt, ask for advice from your own notaire if you have one, or check the directory at notaires.fr.
We note that this facility currently does not work if you use accents in the name you are searching for.
You could use this to see if the firm exists and if so to contact them directly using the phone number in the directory.