Our childhood in California was sprinkled with our father's get rich quick enthusiasms. We can recollect playing with toys on the floor when he would burst in through the front door bellowing (honestly, we are not joking) "This is it! We're gonna be on Easy Street!" At times, he fell for other people's scams; at times, he was the fraudster. Selling phony insurance, building slums, patenting crazy inventions such as paper water purifiers, buying air rights in order to build a mile or two up above state jurisdiction, these were the crooked pipe dreams and sales pitches that filled the adults' talk of our early years. The result for our father was bankruptcy and some near misses of being sent to the slammer; the result for us was a profound cynicism bordering on hostile suspicion whenever someone approaches us with a sure-fire, can't lose promise of riches. We are inclined to consider shoving their promises down their lying throats.
Sadly, not enough people share our suspicions and scam artists abound. The latest here in France is pertinent to our writing for the victims are those who have been told they will inherit a fortune from a distant relative and the crooks are pretending to be probate genealogists. Playing on people's hopes and ignorance, as such people always do, the so-called genealogists have been telling their victims that they are beneficiaries of a foreign (non-French) life insurance policy. They then demand a part of the money promised up front, for which they will then reveal the details of how to collect. They even give the name of a (fraudulent) lawyer with whom the victim can check the story. Unfortunately, people are falling for this and handing over their money, never to see any insurance payout or the crooks again.
The professional organization of Généalogistes de France warns that:
- A genealogist working under the authority of a notaire to find heirs will never request money from an heir
- Once the genealogist informs an insurance company of the identity of the heirs, it is the insurance company that will contact them further and with whom they must deal, not the genealogist
- Should you be contacted with such a story: check that the person is a member of the above association, contact the notaire in charge of the case or contact directly Généalogistes de France about it and they will verify it for you
What with the ever-growing enthusiasm for genealogy here in France, and with the difficult economic situation for many, it was only a matter of time, wasn't it?
©2016 Anne Morddel