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The FBI is warning New Jersey residents to be on the lookout for so-called “inheritance” scams.

According to Edgar Koby, a supervisor special agent in charge of the transnational threat unit of the FBI's Newark Division, a criminal typically will present himself as an attorney and tell someone they are a long lost relative of the person who has died.

“They identify this individual as being the sole surviving relative of this individual, and they have an inheritance. Usually they’ll give them a very large number, in the millions,” he said.

“Most people get very excited because they usually ask for nothing in the beginning, but as the process goes on they’ll ask them to pay a fee or a tax to get their $15 million dollars of inheritance.”

Koby noted that in some situations victims literally spend tens of thousands of dollars in order to get what they think is a bonafide inheritance.

“The average individual would never hand a stranger $20,000, but they know more about that stranger at their door than they do about that person online,” he said.

He said many victims who fall for this are naïve, elderly, or both.

“First, they give a few hundred then maybe a few thousand, then it’s just another $500, and it’s sort of like, well I already invested $3,000, what’s another $500 to get $3 million?”

Koby noted many victims have “very sad stories, after spending their life savings or maxing out their credit cards only to realize they’ve been duped.”

So what’s the best way to not get taken?

“Anyone asking for money that you do not know, I would not send it,” he said.

Koby pointed out another similar type of scam is when someone gets an email or a call informing them they’ve won a lottery they never entered.

“Any email, any prize you won, inheritance, lottery, anything like that, I would not send any money,” he said.

Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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