The following article appeared on Dick Eastman’s blog Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter today and serves as a warning to anyone considering hiring one an organization such as the one mentioned in the article to find missing or unknown heirs:
“World Wide Genealogy Ltd (formerly Beneficiaries Ltd) of Reading, England, was convicted of 10 counts of fraud by false representation and will have to pay back more than £200,000 ($313,000 US dollars) to the family of Charlotte Cook.
NOTE: Heir hunters are individuals or corporations that attempt to find missing or unknown heirs, entitled to deceased people’s estates before the British Treasury lawfully collects the money. The heir hunters normally are paid a rather high percentage of the inherited funds. World Wide Genealogy Ltd demanded a 40 per cent share.
The company was convicted of 10 counts of fraud by false representation on July 11, ordered to repay its victims more than £200,000 and fined £25,000 after the probe by West Berkshire and Wokingham Trading Standards Service.
Councillor Dominic Boeck, West Berkshire’s executive member for Trading Standards, said, “These were fraudsters preying on innocent victims in a particularly distasteful and calculated manner. It will send a clear message to companies that they cannot mislead and lie to people while asking them to hand over potentially large sums of money.”
You can read more in an article in the by John Garvey in the Newbury Weekly News web site at http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/2013/heir-hunting-firm-guilty-of-fraud.”