What does it look like?

We've written this story to show you how scammers trick people. It describes common tactics we know scammers use, based on insights from our fraud and scams team.

The insurance scam

Olivia's aunt had recently died, and Olivia had been helping plan the funeral, write the obituary, and deal with her aunt's will.

One afternoon she got a call from an insurance company. They explained that her aunt had a life insurance policy in place, and the family was due a pay-out. Olivia spoke with them for quite a while – they knew a lot about her aunt and it sounded like they'd dealt with her closely.

The insurance company explained that the last premium still needed to be paid for the policy, and they couldn’t pay out any money until it was settled. Olivia could pay the money herself, or it could come from her aunt’s estate.

Olivia decided it would be easiest to pay the money herself, and made the payment over the phone. The adviser thanked her, said they’d be in touch with more details, then ended the call. Olivia never heard from them again, and never received any money.

What’s the scam?

The caller wasn’t a genuine insurance company employee. They’d seen the obituary for Olivia’s aunt, and used the details they got from it to convince Olivia there was an insurance policy. They tricked her into paying a premium that didn’t exist, and then disappeared.