BBC warns of Heir Hunters email scams circulating

Filed Under: Featured, Spam

Heir HuntersThe BBC has warned computer users to be on the lookout for emails claiming to come from a daytime TV show, after it was discovered that scammers are using the disguise to grab personal information.

The emails claim to be associated with "Heir Hunters", a BBC television programme that focuses on the work of probate detectives, who look for distant relatives of people who have died without making a will.

The unsolicited emails claim to have handed over "thousands and millions of funds to heirs", some of which is allegedly from the estates of victims of the holocaust.

The emails ask that recipients respond with their full name, date of birth, address and telephone number, so that their details can be checked on a database to see if they are eligible for a windfall.

Here's a typical email:

Heir Hunters scam email

Part of the email reads as follows:

I am writing you from Heir Hunters Company in the United kingdom ,

Heir Hunters probate detectives looking for distant relatives of people who have died without making a will, the United Kingdom government last year made over GBP18m from uncliamed assets.

When people die intestate ( without a will ) and with no known relatives, their names are released by the Treasury.

Every Thursday, a list of these unclaimed estates, the Bona Vacantia (Latin for "ownerless goods" ) is published on the Treasury Solicitor's website.

The race is then on for heir locators to track down the often distant relatives in line for a windfall. Often heir hunters pick more unusual names first, as they are easier to trace.

We came across your profile and email while searching through genealogy database,we will be glad if you can get back to us with your full name, date of birth, address and your direct number if it corresponds to the information we have in our data base in order to enable us carry out necessary verification processes and to get your claim across to you without any delay.

Heir Hunters have handed over thousands and millions of funds to heirs who have no idea of their fortune,some of them ,Holocaust victims' estates, whom some of their heirs tried to flee war-torn Europe,but did any of them survive to claim these fortune ?

The emails even include a link to an online episode of the TV show via the BBC iPlayer in attempt to make the message seem more legitimate.

The BBC has issued a warning about the emails on its website, saying they have that neither Flame Television, the makers of Heir Hunters, or the BBC are connected with the emails.

Heir Hunters warning from the BBC

The BBC's advice is sensible - don't offer your personal information in response to the unsolicited email, and if you do find you have accidentally shared information with the scammers be careful not to pay them any money. If you believe you are being defrauded, you would be wise to contact the police.

And, if you believe you could be the beneficiary of the assets of a deceased person who didn't make a will, or died with no known heirs, then you could do a lot worse than visit the UK government's Bona Vacantia website.

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4 Responses to BBC warns of Heir Hunters email scams circulating

  1. Campbell · 1305 days ago

    When will scammers realise that they would greatly improve their success rate if they at least checked their spelling and grammar first? I'm sure most people would realise that the BBC would refer to the "United kingdom" for starters...

  2. Nigel · 1304 days ago

    The only way a scam like this could possibly work would be for the respondents to be even more illiterate and clueless than the moron who wrote the bogus email message shown above.

    ...wuh...that's a scary thought. I fear for their safety in the cyber-world of predatory humanoids.

  3. Anne · 664 days ago

    I got this scam mail only today, maybe their bet is that people from other countries (The Netherlands in my case) are indeed illiterate, which I could well be in English, but I'm certainly not clueless...

  4. Amy Newman · 448 days ago

    This is still circulating, some of my colleagues have received similar recently.

    I am a professional genealogist and missing heir tracer and have assisted one of the UK firms that is featured on Heir Hunters. It is very frustrating when people respond to our legitimate inquiries with skepticism because of scams. It makes our job much more difficult!

    Don't assume that all communications about estates are scams. Check out the website of the company that has contacted you, their references and professional memberships. You might actually be a missing heir.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley