OCC warns of scam seeking fees for inheritance payouts – and claiming to be from regulator

Fictitious correspondence claiming to be from the national bank regulator related to up-front fee scams involving untrue inheritance or beneficiary payouts are being circulated among consumers, the agency warned Wednesday while denying any involvement in the scheme.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said consumers who have provided personal information to a scammer making such claims should immediately contact their bank or other financial institution to take steps to safeguard their assets. Additionally, the agency said, consumers should file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Identity Theft Division and initiate a recovery plan by following the instructions on the website.

The OCC said it is not involved in any such correspondence. It also said it has not proposed a regulation seeking personal identifiable information, requiring a payment of any fee in connection with a proposal, or suggesting that the agency is a participant in the transfer of funds for or on behalf of others. That claim was made in the phony correspondence, the agency said.

“Any communication claiming that the OCC is involved in holding any funds for the benefit of any individual or entity is fraudulent,” the agency said. “The OCC does not participate in the transfer of funds for, or on behalf of, individuals, business enterprises, or governmental entities.”

The fake messages are delivered, the OCC said, through a variety of channels, including email, Google Chat, and the U.S. Postal Service.

“In all instances, victims are initially contacted regarding funds being held on their behalf by the OCC and are asked to provide the scammers general personal information including name, address, and telephone number,” the agency said.

The scammers follow up with correspondence which requests for more specific personal information including Social Security number, bank account details, and copies of driver’s licenses and passports.

“Correspondence is generally poorly written with typographical and grammatical errors and may include instructions for the victim to pay thousands of dollars in required fees or taxes for the release of the supposedly held funds,” the OCC said.

The phony messages purport to be from senior officials of the OCC. It may also include the names of other governmental agencies who are purportedly involved in the fake transaction, OCC said.

Fictitious Regulatory Notifications: Fictitious Notification Regarding the Release of Funds Supposedly Under the Control of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

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