IT appears that residents in Lewis are being targeted by a cruel letter scam which indicates that the death of a family member has lead to a bequest of £17.5million.
The Gazette has learnt of at least two families, and reports of ten others, who received identical letters – the only difference being the surname of the deceased which had been changed to match that of the recipient.
A couple from Stornoway were instantly suspicious that the correspondence was a scam, however an elderly island resident was grossly upset by the experience as her late son had the same name as detailed in the letter.
A neighbour of the lady said: “I looked over the letter and realised that it wasn’t real, but she was upset and deeply unsettled by the whole experience.”
The letter is purported to be sent from a ‘Danks Ak’, a Private Investment Manager, and the only return contact details found are a fax number and email address.
Within the correspondence ‘Danks Ak’ details that the relative in question placed an investment under his management in 1997 and the funds, which are in a Chinese bank now remain unclaimed following the death of ‘William’ in a hiking accident in China.
Things get a little dodgy sounding as the letter continues however as ‘Danks Ak’ states: “You do not need to have known him. I know this sounds a bit heavy and complex but believe in it because I am an expert in this filed [sic] and know exactly what is needed to make this a success and achievable.”
He also writes: “Please can we keep communication for now strictly by the above contact details. I am a family man, with a wife and children. Do not betray my confidence.”
Commenting on the letter scam, a spokesman for Northern Constabulary said: “Our advice is to never give out personal and bank details over the phone, in an email or in a letter at any time.”
He added: “If people think there’s a scam going on which has targeted them, then they can report it at their local police station.”
And further advice on a variety of known scams is available at www.northern.police.uk/scams.htm
Western Isles cash machines have also recently been targeted by scammers who traded on the name of legitimate company Ukash which enables consumers to use their cash online through a unique 19-digit Ukash voucher code.
Company CEO David Hunter said: “We are appalled that scammers are targeting people to defraud their money and we are actively working with the authorities to close them down.
“Our advice is that Ukash voucher details should NEVER be given to cold callers or doorstep sales people.
“The simple message is to treat Ukash with the same security as you would physical cash and anyone who believes they have been targeted should report it to the police and to Action Fraud UK on 0300 123 2040 in the first instance.”