Letters claiming to come from a Hong Kong-based bank are attempting to lure victims into a cash scam with the promise of a share in £12.2 million.
The letters are often personalised, signed by Wei Ding Xiang, who claims to be the director of a private bank, and sent in the post.
He tells recipients he is handling the estate of a Westerner who died in an accident, leaving no will but the fortune which will revert to the Chinese state unless claimed.
The letters say the dead man shares the same unusual surname as the people targeted in the scam creating an opportunity for the transaction which will make the victim and addressee wealthy.
The scam works by preying on people and gradually winning their trust. At a later stage in the transfer, unexpected legal fees crop up requiring upfront payments.
Detective Sergeant Chris Fixter, from the Durham Police Fraud squad said: “People living in the North East have recently been receiving these letters suggesting that they may be due the inheritance.
“This is undoubtedly a scam known as advance fee fraud - the recipient will be asked for fees upfront for release of the funds which, of course, will never happen.
“Please don’t fall for this scam.”
If you have suspicions or would like to report fraudulent activity, contact police on 101 or call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.