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Someone I knew, who was in a Mexican prison, has passed away and apparently this person has left me money. The bank called me and gave me details to log into an online bank account where I could see the money in an account with my name on it.

The bank is asking me for money before it will give me the inheritance, is this legal?

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    Sorry, the word “know” has come to be an ambiguous word. Can you edit your question to clarify the exact relationship you had with the deceased? – JoeTaxpayer Aug 5 at 13:42
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    "the word “know” has come to be an ambiguous word" Specifically, were you aware of this person's existence prior to them passing away, or was an unsolicited email "from a private bank" the first time you heard about them? – TripeHound Aug 5 at 15:23
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    If they actually had money that belonged to you, they could deduct their fee from the money owed to you. Note that deaths are almost always public record and generally easy to find for free (to say nothing of special services that sell this information in bulk), so it is trivial to find out someone you knew/were related to died and then send you fake information about a supposed inheritance you have to pay money to collect. Don't worry about legality of charging/requesting a fee - that's the least extreme law they would be breaking, and they don't care about the law anyway. – BrianH Aug 5 at 16:02
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    OK, one more time - whenever someone - be it an individual "someone" or a corporate "someone" - sends you an email that says they have money for you and all you have to do is give them some money first, IT'S A SCAM! Don't click on anything, delete the email, and move on. – Bob Jarvis Aug 7 at 14:36
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Nobody legit will ever ask you for money to give you money. If there is a million dollar inheritance and it costs $1,000 to get the money to you, someone legit will take $1,000 from the inheritance and give $999,000 to you.

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    "I'm just bewildered that the bank gave me all the information as to log into to the account" - How do you know that it's not a fake bank website? – Tanner Swett Aug 6 at 3:14
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    @Candy And how do you know the person calling is from a bank? The only way you know they are from a bank is if you have called the bank yourself using a number taken from the actual bank's website which you have typed in yourself. Not using a number the scammer gave you, not using a link the scammer gave you. – Graham Aug 6 at 7:14
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    And even if you do as @Graham says, how do you know Acme Bank Ltd is actually a real bank, and that https://www.acmebankltd.mx is said bank's official web site? It's not difficult these days to set up a legitimate-looking web site with some fake contact details, and get a VoIP phone number in the appropriate country. – a CVn Aug 6 at 7:31
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    If you have all the information to log into the purported account of the deceased, what would prevent you from transferring all the money from that account to your own? – zovits Aug 6 at 9:05
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    @Candy Beware that the scammer might have set up a phone line with the number displayed on the website. Perform an internet search for the bank, see if it is a real bank, and if so, then call the number found on the official site found from the search page. – zovits Aug 6 at 17:35
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I was contacted by a private bank overseas to get my inheritance

Umm, sorry - but no, you weren't.

You were contacted by a scam artist who is banking on your greed outweighing your common sense.
Inheritance & deceased estates don't work that way. The executors of the estate may be able to deduct some of their costs from the estate, but that's done directly and does not get paid by the beneficiaries.

Don't fall for this. You're not going to see any money. You will lose any money you send.

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    Correct - any inheritance work would be done by a lawyer or employee of a law firm. – Criggie Aug 6 at 12:26
  • Yes, I know it just someone that I knew my friend was killed and now they are contacting me after his death to do this scam. Thanks – user88780 Aug 6 at 14:15
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    @Candy Deaths tend to be public. Chances are the scammer looked them up on Facebook and sent this to all their friends. – ceejayoz Aug 6 at 15:09
  • Agreed - and to add, the scammers will give you a legitimate looking bank account to send the money to (possibly making you think you may have some banking regulations to protect you). If you do send money, they'll quickly get it out and close that account (and disappear), making it impossible for your bank to ever recover the money. As you say: you will lose any money you send. – Ralph Bolton Aug 7 at 8:58
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    @Criggie: Not necessarily. Many localities allow the executor/trix of an estate to be any person the deceased appoints, and that person doesn't need to an attorney or employee of one. – GreenMatt Aug 7 at 21:54
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Going by your comments under gnasher's answer, the scam goes something like this: The scammer is, or is associated with, someone who knew the deceased in prison. They found out enough about you from the deceased to get your contact information.

Then, when the deceased died, the scammer used this information to set up an advance-fee scam specifically targeted at you (and probably other people similarly connected to the deceased and/or sharing your first and last names), banking on the extra layer of credibility to get you to fall for it.

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    It’s by no means clear that the ”deceased” has actually died. The original poster doesn’t say how they learned of the ”death”, so they may only have the scammer’s word for it. – Mike Scott Aug 6 at 13:52
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    @MikeScott OP clearifies in a comment on brhans' answer that he knows the friend got killed – Jungkook Aug 7 at 5:41
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If you receive and accept an inheritance, there's 2 things you have to pay:

  • Debts.
  • Taxes.

What's common to both is they only apply after you received the assets of the inheritance, and neither is owed to the executor.

If you are worried about getting bad advice on the internet, and are concerned that the basic rules may not apply overseas, you can always contact the local embassy to ask for specific unusual rules regarding international inheritance (e.g. the US embassy in Nigeria, if you're from the US and the overseas "bank" is from Nigeria).

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    Even more so in Scotland, eveything is done through sollicitors (lawyers) ... For this kind of matter, if you haven't talked to one yet this is a bad recipe... – Hoki Aug 6 at 17:14
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    The bank is called Scottish Private bank I tried looking it up and couldn't find anything – user88780 Aug 6 at 18:14
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    @Candy a legitimate death certificate (if you can validate the certificate's legitimacy) only proves that your friend passed away (my condolences). It does NOT prove that he left an inheritance, that you're the recipient of that inheritance, that the mentioned bank exists, that said bank is the executor, that the person who contacted you is acting on behalf of said bank, or that the process they explained to you is legitimate and accurate. – Blueriver Aug 6 at 18:20
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    @Blueriver: I had called the bank number and a robotic voice answering machine picked up so, i am convinced that this is fraudulent. I need to report this. Who do I report this to? – user88780 Aug 6 at 18:31
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    @Candy I know of no agency that is able and willing to follow up on international cases like these where no monetary damage was done (and there are precious few that care even if damage was done). You may get better answers on "Who do I report this to" if you write a separate question, or look if one already exists. – Peter Aug 6 at 21:33

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