Heir Hunting firm Fraser & Fraser, offers advice to those affected by the criminal activity of a Leeds City Council Officer
Council officer Deborah Cook, abused her position within Leeds City Council to make up to £160,000 by deceiving victims into thinking she was from an heir hunting company. Cook, 39, also stole a credit card from a woman who had died intestate with no traceable next of kin, and used it to spend £17,000.
Her role at Leeds City Council involved helping to find family members of the deceased and seize documents or valuables to avoid loss or theft. Cook failed to pass details to the Treasury which were therefore left out of the list of unclaimed estates published by the Treasury on a weekly basis. This meant Cook could get to work on finding the next of kin for these undeclared estates while the genuine heir hunting firms were denied the details and would therefore miss out.
After pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office, fraud and 2 offences of theft, she was jailed for 16 months.
Neil Fraser, partner at Fraser & Fraser said “unfortunately, this is not the first time a scam has been uncovered in the heir hunting business. However, the public need to be aware that there are very genuine companies that work in an entirely legal and transparent way to locate next of kin and distribute to them, what is rightfully theirs”. He added, “Anyone that has been affected by this scam can contact Fraser & Fraser who will be able to advise them on the situation and discuss next steps”.
Fraser & Fraser is the main firm featured on the BBC 1 documentary Heir Hunters and has in the past helped police with their investigations into fraudulent activity of a similar nature to the above. They also provide information on how to identify scams on their website www.fraserandfraser.co.uk
For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact The Marketing Department on 020 7832 1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.fraserandfraser.co.uk.
- About Fraser & Fraser
Fraser & Fraser traces its roots back to 1923, although has been trading under this name since 1969 and is currently being run by the third generation. In the last 10 years, over £100 million has been distributed to some 50,000 beneficiaries in the course of more than 10,000 cases, on estates ranging from £5,000 to several million pounds. It has its head office in London, 6 regional UK offices, as well as departments covering France, Italy, Scandinavia and Poland, as well as an extensive network of international agents.
- Facts and Figures
The Treasury receives approx. £18 million from intestate estates which have not been claimed. According to the Ministry of Justice’s Judicial and Court Statistics, in 2007 (the latest figures released) some 76,000 people died without leaving a will. It is estimated that 60-70% of the population does not have a valid will.
- About the Administration of Estates Act 1925
The Administration of Estates Act 1925 defines under ss 46 and 47 the order of priority of entitled relatives in England and Wales. This is as follows:
- Husband, wife or civil partner
- Children, grandchildren or their descendants
- Brothers and sisters of the whole-blood or their issue
- Brothers and sisters of the half-blood or their issue
- Aunts and uncles of the whole-blood and their issue (these will be first cousins of the deceased)
- Aunts and uncles of the half-blood or their issue