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Spotlight on Fraud

One of the most important aims of APR is to protect beneficiaries from rogue firms. As APR came into existence to help put a spotlight on the unprofessional and, in many cases, fraudulent practices of certain individuals, we have included notable instances where either those in the industry or individuals posing as "Heir Hunters" have been convicted of fraud or behaved unprofessionally in connection to unclaimed estates.

Our ultimate goal is to put a stop to legitimate beneficiaries being cheated out of tens of thousands of pounds. Here are a selection of cases as reported in the local and national press (please click on underlined links for further information):

Francis Fallon and Richard Carr (2009) jailed for £3.5mill scandal, including forged Wills, whilst posing as Heir Hunters.

Yvette Adams (2010) NHS bereavement adviser’s pocketed from the Estates of dead patients in a three quarters of a £1m fraud.

Deborah Cook (2012) jailed for misconduct in a public office, fraud and two other offences for thefts committed whilst moonlighting as an Heir Hunter.

Maria Lauretta (2013) Bogus "Heir Hunter" posed as Solicitor to try and claim deceased pensioner's home.

Alexander Pilley (2013) of Beneficiaries Limited branded 'calculated, cynical and well planned' by Judge who ordered them to pay compensation of £200,000.00.

Daniel Morgan-Bates (2014) of Morgan Bates Services Ltd received at least 6 CCJs against him & £75,000 in outstanding charges. He subsequently dissolved the company in February 2016 and finally

admitted 19 counts of fraud in June 2017 - he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

Grafton (UK) Limited (2014/2015) and their solicitors, Simpson Millar, who specialise in locating owners of dormant properties. Having found a property where the owner had passed away, Graftons approached one of the deceased's children and, although the heir had been previously located by another firm of genealogists and had signed a contract with them, Graftons continued to obtain a second agreement for 25% of the net estate. They failed to locate the second child of the deceased, although they were also entitled. Six months later, Graftons returned to obtain a second agreement (this time for 33% of the net estate) and then returned after a further six months to obtain a third agreement - this time for 33% of the gross estate. In the estate accounts, Graftons charged £115,717.95 commission fee on the £288,000.00 gross estate, there were a further £66,000 of additional liabilities, resulting in an estate to be distributed of just over £100,000. Upon examination by the court, there were found to be several serious breaches of contract law identified within Graftons contract, in addition to the excessively inflated fee they had tried to claim. The court set aside all the agreements as unenforceable.

This is an unreported case so far; however, see here the court papers available detailing the matter.

Susan Dalton (2016) who was never found guilty, as she passed away in 2016, was charged by Derbyshire Police Fraud squad. She was potentially involved in 100's of cases whereby she is believed to have systematically solved low value cases and did not release the funds to those legally entitled to inherit.

David Gaertner (2016) is one of the founders of Heir Hunters Association sister organisation “The Federation of Probate And Asset Researchers Limited” formally known as "Heir Hunters Association Limited; 14 Oct 2011 - 15 Nov 2013". He was convicted, for the second time, of downloading child sex abuse images. The Federation issued claims to be ‘the industry watchdog’; however, what is incredibly worrying is that even after a 2014 conviction, the so-called watchdog continued to have a convicted pervert (who had been found guilty and sentenced to an eight-month suspended jail sentence) still in place as a Director for a further 2 years. It was not until the end of November 2016 that he was removed as a Director, although there are still many references to him on both organisation's web pages. ​​

Be aware of any links to "Buy a Heir Hunting Franchise" - currently, there is nothing illegal in doing so but some dubious claims have been made regarding how Estates should be handled. It is our belief that Heir Hunting is not something that should be franchised, but instead conducted only by those who have been thoroughly educated and have the relevant and necessary experience to do so.

Man who splurged neighbour's £240k fortune on holidays and cars jailed for 6 months - the High Court held Mr Loveday, from Plumstead, "personally culpable for ...failing to control the estate assets". The sentence came after the father of two received the proceeds from the sale of Mrs Border's house and was found to have spent "substantial sums" on cars, debt repayments and holidays for his partner and himself. One of the two beneficiaries legally entitled to the Estate, Mrs Parminder Gibbs, had not received a penny and had her worst fears realised when only £10,000.00 was found still in his account.

*click on the underlined links to view articles

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