Andrew Mitchel LLC

International Tax Blog - New and Interesting International Tax Issues

Overseas Inheritance Scam: Tax Certificate for Wire Transfer


A story.

Let’s say you receive an email notifying you about an inheritance of US$6 million (or Euros or Pounds) that you are about to receive.  The inheritance is coming from someone (the “decedent”) that lived outside the U.S.  You are not related to the decedent.  In fact, you had never heard of the decedent before receiving the email.  However, for some reason, the decedent wanted to leave his fortune to you.  The dollar signs are so big in your eyes that you bite.

Let’s say you are confused by lots of legal mumbo jumbo going on, but after all, the cash is coming from a foreign country where they have strange customs.  After you have dished out some cash for various fees associated with the decedent's estate (that for some reason could not come out of the cash you will inherit), the money is about to be wire transferred to you (or to a foreign corporation that you will control, etc.).

Unfortunately, you are told, a wire transfer of this magnitude requires that you need to get a “tax certificate” to wire transfer the money.  Obtaining the tax certificate, you are told, will cost you an additional US$2,000.  Receiving this inheritance is starting to drain your pocketbook.  You wonder if it might be cheaper to get this tax certificate from someone else.

You search around and find the phone number of an international tax attorney.  You call the attorney and ask about getting one of these so called tax certificates so the money can be wire transferred.  After providing a little background to the attorney, he states point blank that you are involved in a scam and that you should not have any further contact with these crooks.

Do you believe the attorney?  Is the prospect of receiving US$6 million, the fact that you have already dished out some cash, and the potential embarrassment too much to overcome for you to see the truth?  Will you continue sending good cash after bad?  One can only wonder.

Tags: Other - Scams