When ‘heir hunters’ approached three family members with the unexpected news that they stood to inherit money from a person who died without leaving a will, they were asked to sign a contract giving 40 per cent of the inheritance to the heir hunters and agreeing to pay their expenses. They were told that if they did not sign the contract they would lose their entitlement to inherit, which was untrue.
The heir hunting company had been ‘retained’ by another company, which had been instructed by the administrators of the estate of the intestate person to trace the beneficiaries.
The heir hunters charged a total of more than £100,000. After the various beneficiaries had been traced, their individual shares came to less than £11,000 each. In the event, however, no payments were made to them.
When the matter was investigated, it was discovered that both of the companies involved were under the control of the same man. The court concluded that the company had acted fraudulently.