Publishers Clearing House Scam

A Publishers Clearing House phone call scam is increasing lately.  Worse yet, these criminals seem to target the elderly.  We wanted our community to be aware that our elderly residents may be receiving scam calls and may need your help understanding them.

The scam starts with a call or letter saying you've won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes,  But to collect your prize, the scammer says, you need to send money to pay for fees and taxes.  Typically the victim is told to send this money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or another type of gift card (Apple Card, Microsoft Card,etc.).  Scammers ask you to pay these ways because it is difficult to trace the money - and, the victim is rarely able to recover the money.   Scammers have been asking for between $2,500 and $7,500 in recent incidents. 

Another method is sending the victim a realistic-looking FAKE CHECK.  The victim is advised to deposit the check and send some of the money back to the scammer as payment for made up purpose, like taxes, fees or other ambiguous reason.  But, when the FAKE CHECK you deposit bounces, even after it seemed to clear, you may be on the hook for the money you sent.

If you have won a prize here are a few things you need to know:

  1.  NEVER send money to collect a prize, lottery winnings or a sweepstakes check. IF YOU HAVE TO PAY SOMETHING, anything, IT'S A SCAM!
  2.  NEVER deposit a CHECK that requires you to send money as part if the check payment.  IT'S A FAKE CHECK AND A SCAM!
  3.  NEVER send money to someone (STRANGER) that calls you saying you won prize or a family member needs money for some reason.  MOST LIKELY A SCAM! If the   person identifies themselves as a caller of a family member, verify the information they are telling you with LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

Publishers Clearing House reports that it will NEVER ask you to pay a FEE to collect a PRIZE.