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The Virginia Department of the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Program is warning consumers of a new scam targeting potential owners of unclaimed property.
According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, a fraudulent e-mail is circulating in parts of the country, claiming to be from a non-existent NAUPA regional auditor, Alexis James.
The message promises a large sum of money is waiting to be claimed from a deceased relative and can be claimed in exchange for detailed personal information.
Typical of such scams, there is no large inheritance and the personal information provided is usually used to facilitate identity theft, the state said.
In some cases, the victim will also be asked to provide a sum of money upfront in order to pay for processing. Any money provided to the requestor is usually stolen.
The recipient is asked to keep all communications confidential, a common tactic in e-mails targeting older or vulnerable populations in order to keep them from telling friends or family about the scam.
The Virginia Department of the Treasury reminds Virginians that neither the state’s unclaimed property program nor NAUPA will ever contact potential unclaimed property owners in this manner.
“Virginia’s Unclaimed Property Program does not solicit information from people directly through e-mail unless they have contacted us regarding a specific claim first,” said Vicki Bridgeman, program director.
“We strongly advise that anyone who gets an e-mail promising a big cash reward in exchange for personal information or a processing fee delete it immediately. Anyone who wants to check if they have legitimate unclaimed property can visit our website, www.vaMoneySearch.org and claim any property they may have at any time and at no cost to them whatsoever.”
The Virginia treasury encourages that suspicious unclaimed property communications be reported to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/complaint.default.aspx.
The state said that an estimated one in four Virginians has unclaimed property, and the commonwealth is holding more than $1.2 billion waiting to be claimed.