Cruel email scam targets Holocaust 'heirs'

An email fraudster has been targeting the community claiming that people with the same surnames as Holocaust victims can collect millions of dollars.

The email tells the recipient there is a dormant bank account belonging to a Holocaust victim with the same name, and urges them to reply within seven days to receive the funds.

The writer claims to be an executive director at the Swiss Banks Settlement, which in reality retrieved $1.25 billion from Swiss banks in 1998. The banks had retained and concealed assets of Holocaust victims.

The settlement was distributed among survivors, slave-labourers, those who had assets looted by Nazis, and the heirs of those who had deposited money in Swiss banks and had not been repaid.

The error-ridden email says: "Due to our routine clean-up we came across these unattended consignments bearing your surname. You are adviced to forward to this office your delivery address for immediate delivery of you consignments otherwise we would deposit the funds with our bank."

The email uses the authentic web address of the New York-based Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT), which handled claims from victims' families, to show the recipient a list of successful claimants.

In 2001 and 2005, the CRT published the names of almost 24,000 accounts of probable victims, but the deadline to file claims has now closed.

A series of hoax emails have since circulated and been dismissed by the CRT.

Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, said: "There have, sadly, been various cruel hoaxes regarding Holocaust restitution. People should delete any of these hoax emails and then notify CST. We also advise not forwarding the email and most certainly not replying directly to it."

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies said: "Any fraudulent email campaign is to be condemned but the manipulation of the Holocaust makes this scam particularly offensive."

Last updated: 2:05pm, May 13 2010