RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Letters offering a huge windfall from a Canadian law firm have been hitting mailboxes in the area recently.
When one came to a CBS 17 viewer, they asked consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia to check it out.
The letter advised the viewer, a Raleigh woman, that an $8.9 million unclaimed insurance policy from a “distant relative” was left unclaimed and if the viewer would consent to a partnership with the sender, 10 percent of the money would go to charity and the viewer and sender would split the rest between them.
Who is the sender?
The letterhead indicated it was from a Toronto, Ontario law firm and the sender was a “Terry Alton” who claimed to be a partner in the firm.
Sbraccia began his investigation by calling the number listed in the letter.
A man who identified himself as Terry said to “call back in an hour.”
When Sbraccia tried to explain what he wanted, the man cut him off saying again, “Call back in an hour OK??”
When Sbraccia called back, he got a voice prompt saying “Your call has been forwarded to a voice mail service that has not been initialized by the customer you are calling.”
Three subsequent attempts over the next few days resulted in the same voice-prompt.
Sbraccia continued his investigation with some digging.
He checked with the database of Law Society of Ontario which is their version of the bar association.
There was no record for attorney Terry Alton. A check on the name of the law firm brought a a similar result: no records returned.
Just to be sure, Sbraccia also checked the database of the Toronto Lawyers Association for attorney Terry Alton.
Again, no profile found.
CBS 17 asked the Law Society of Ontario if there was some other lawyer database.
Thye said in an email, any lawyer practicing law in Ontario, Canada must be licensed by the Law Society of Ontario and would appear in its online directory.
So what to make of this letter? It’s a scam, one that has been tried before.
An alert from the Louisiana State Bar warns about letters sent to people in that state supposedly from an Ontario Law Firm about a large inheritance from a distant relative.
The Louisiana State Bar Association says when the origins of the letter were investigated, it appeared to be a phishing scam aimed at getting personal information.