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Contacted by an heir search firm. Is this a scam?

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  • Contacted by an heir search firm. Is this a scam?

    Saturday after we ironically get home from a family reunion we get a FedEx priority/overnight delivery from an heir search/fiduciary firm. They claim my wife is a link and/or possible heir to an unclaimed estate. The company name is Kemp & Associates. We researched them and they are out of Utah and they seem legit. They included a probate research "contract" for us to sign and return, but no request for any suspicious information. We shrugged it off as a phishing scam to get critical information from us in the future.

    Monday we get a priority/next day envelope in the mail with a similar company stating the same with a similar "contract" and notarized probate paper work to sign and return. This one is called American German Heir Search. This company is out of Florida.

    The first one names the possible heir (not a familiar name), the second one does not. Both require a cut of 33% of anything that is legally an "inheritance".

    Both have legit web sites and have spent upwards of $25 dollars each to get their information to us. Just seemed a little strange to get these back to back.

    Could this be some kind of scam? Both have BBB endorsements and legit phone number and addresses. Couldn't find anything negative about either company.
    Filed July 2009. Discharged 08/08/2014. Awaiting closing. We made it !!!! Woo-hoo!

  • #2
    The companies are probably legit. Their methods are not necessarily so.

    The very exact thing occurred to my wife and I. Out of the blue, we were informed by a similar company that my wife was heir to an estate in Greece, and she was one of two people they had located. This was all legit. I suppose they were actually performing a service. Here is where I have my problem: We discovered that the information was easily found by performing a records search on her family members from years past. We were able to skip the 33% entirely and simply collect her legitimate inheritance.

    These companies are right on the verge of moral and ethical lines, at least to me. If you search hard enough, you may be able to figure it out on your own. They will not, however, divulge anything that might help with this search until you sign. Which guarantees them 33% for what might amount to be a computer algo that snagged your name from public records somewhere.

    Maybe there is value in that. I guess I can see it if you have no other idea about how to figure out this mystery.

    Finally, be very, very careful about how you proceed, no matter what. Here's why:

    My wife and her cousin were the only remaining heirs to an estate worth around 750k in USd. Her cousin thought he would be smart about this, and hired his own attorney, in addition to the company he signed with. This resulted in a 6 month delay in the proceedings. During that time, 12 other heirs with dubious claims to this estate popped up everywhere from Australia to Russia. Their paperwork was duly submitted and disputed. Some of them were outright frauds, and others remained very questionable. In the end, several were included.

    If they WERE actual heirs, they need to be paid, of course. But I still harbor doubts. My cousin had asked his lawyer to "look into it" by contacting courts in Greece. Word got out among the locals, and suddenly all sorts of poorly kept records and claims began popping up.

    When the dust settled, my wife got a check for 80k, rather than the 350k or so that it probably should have been. We are still grateful, but be careful how you proceed.

    In the end, if you have multiple companies contacting you, and still have utterly no clue, you can use them against each other to negotiate a lower percentage fee. You might want a lawyer to give it a once-over, but I am not sure I would do more than that.
    11-20-09-- Filed Chapter 7
    12-23-09-- 341 Meeting-Early Christmas Gift?
    3-9-10--Discharged

    Comment


    • #3
      Had this happen 2 weeks ago. received something from an PI agency looking for relatives of my deceased grandfather. I went to the California attorney generals website, and sure enough, there was a listing there for an unclaimed life insurance proceeds of $2000 reported by Assurant insurance company. I have since contacted Assurant directly to claim the proceeds. not sure what wickets they will put me through to collect. Grandpa died in 2002
      Stopped Paying CC's 2/2009. Retained Attorney 1/10/2010 Filed 1/23/2010. Discharged 5/19/10 $187K CC, $240K 2nd,$417K 1st, No asset Ch-7

      Comment


      • #4
        Yup we were also contacted after our son passed. Unclaimed rebates/refunds etc that went to the state. Investigator/lawyer was out of Missouri. We paid him a total of $300.00 to do everything and all we did was sit back and sign and notorize docs and send back to him.

        Yes we could have done ourselves but the way we looked at it, we didn't have time to go through the wads of paperwork the state wantd, we weren't expecting it and it helped this guy with his business.

        Win-win

        Comment


        • #5
          Update: Got the skinny on this. Wife has some sort of inheritance/settlement from the state of West Virginia from her great great grandfather on her father's side. Talked to the last company that contacted us and he said all the other relatives of interest have been contacted as well. That is all he would disclose. Not sure of any monetary values yet.
          Filed July 2009. Discharged 08/08/2014. Awaiting closing. We made it !!!! Woo-hoo!

          Comment


          • #6
            nothing like a good mystery to make your day!! people dream of getting that type of notification LOL!!

            OH! but sorry about your wife's great great grandfather!
            8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! http://www.bkforum.com/blog.php?32727-tobee43 and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK http://www.bkforum.com/group.php?groupid=9

            Comment


            • #7
              Found the "inheritance" is about $200k, but there is a catch! It has to be distributed through all living remaining heirs which is close to 200 people! Our net share will be about $800 after the dust settles. Could take six to eight months to complete the searches and get responses. Its a pleasant surprise, but not a life changing event. We have one more year in our chapter 13 and I hope the trustee doesn't snag this!

              One benefit is that we get a detailed family tree back to the great great grandfather.
              Filed July 2009. Discharged 08/08/2014. Awaiting closing. We made it !!!! Woo-hoo!

              Comment


              • #8
                that is so cool!! lol! not the $800 but the family tree! you rarely hear these stories as true, so this is very cool indeed thanks for sharing!
                8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! http://www.bkforum.com/blog.php?32727-tobee43 and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK http://www.bkforum.com/group.php?groupid=9

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DeadManCrawling View Post
                  The companies are probably legit. Their methods are not necessarily so.

                  The very exact thing occurred to my wife and I. Out of the blue, we were informed by a similar company that my wife was heir to an estate in Greece, and she was one of two people they had located. This was all legit. I suppose they were actually performing a service. Here is where I have my problem: We discovered that the information was easily found by performing a records search on her family members from years past. We were able to skip the 33% entirely and simply collect her legitimate inheritance.

                  These companies are right on the verge of moral and ethical lines, at least to me. If you search hard enough, you may be able to figure it out on your own. They will not, however, divulge anything that might help with this search until you sign. Which guarantees them 33% for what might amount to be a computer algo that snagged your name from public records somewhere.

                  Maybe there is value in that. I guess I can see it if you have no other idea about how to figure out this mystery.

                  Finally, be very, very careful about how you proceed, no matter what. Here's why:

                  My wife and her cousin were the only remaining heirs to an estate worth around 750k in USd. Her cousin thought he would be smart about this, and hired his own attorney, in addition to the company he signed with. This resulted in a 6 month delay in the proceedings. During that time, 12 other heirs with dubious claims to this estate popped up everywhere from Australia to Russia. Their paperwork was duly submitted and disputed. Some of them were outright frauds, and others remained very questionable. In the end, several were included.

                  If they WERE actual heirs, they need to be paid, of course. But I still harbor doubts. My cousin had asked his lawyer to "look into it" by contacting courts in Greece. Word got out among the locals, and suddenly all sorts of poorly kept records and claims began popping up.

                  When the dust settled, my wife got a check for 80k, rather than the 350k or so that it probably should have been. We are still grateful, but be careful how you proceed.

                  In the end, if you have multiple companies contacting you, and still have utterly no clue, you can use them against each other to negotiate a lower percentage fee. You might want a lawyer to give it a once-over, but I am not sure I would do more than that.

                  This should also be a cautionary tale for anyone out there reading this who has significant assets. Make sure get a professional to get your will signed, notarized, and filed with the local court system (if necessary in your area), so your money and assets go to the people you truly love and care about, and not to scammers out there who are simply trying to take advantage of a bad situation.

                  When one of my great Aunts (with no living children, nor grandchildren) died recently, we had long lost relatives suddenly come from out of nowhere, and they all thought they were entitled to part of the estate. She had a will done by an attorney over a decade ago, notarized, filed, etc., and when relatives opened probate, the will was so clear about who got what, it was easy to bat them away like flies.
                  The world's simplest C & D Letter:
                  "I demand that you cease and desist from any communication with me."
                  Notice that I never actually mention or acknowledge the debt in my letter.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    so much agree with what you are saying GoingDown, can't stress it enough. there are also ways to bypass getting one's estate tied up in probate which could take years. only a estate atty can really help you with your individual needs. but it's so important.

                    remember, if one dies in testate part of the your estate goes directly to the good old state! i know i for one certainly don't want anything i have accumulated after our bk to go to the state as opposed to my kids or grand kids. (although i don't know all their names i know i have them) you know the one with the blond hair gets this ring and the one with the black hair gets this LOL!! i'm sure one gets the idea.

                    most wills you don't have to itemize, but if you have specific items you want to go to a specific person you have to have that list attached to the will.
                    8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! http://www.bkforum.com/blog.php?32727-tobee43 and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK http://www.bkforum.com/group.php?groupid=9

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just came across this story after my Grandfather got a letter from Kemp and Associates and another similar company.about a family inheritance. It looks like Kemp & Associates along with their vice president were just charged by the Department of Justice in a Criminal Complaint. My Grandfather went with the other compnay and has been very happy. here is the story about Kemp https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/heir-...ocation-scheme andthe complaint is here https://www.scribd.com/document/3227...nal-Indictment

                      Comment

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