He was called and notified he had won the Publisher’s Clearing House contest. The elderly man had entered the contest and had every reason to believe his day had arrived.
He would receive a 2022 Land Rover, $6,000 in actual spending cash, and $6.5 million in his bank account, as well as $5,000 a month for life to help him pay his bills.
The Times subscriber followed the directions the caller, “Dan Lewis” issued. He was told to send money via Green Dot cards purchased through Wal-Mart, and to read the numbers on the cards to him on the phone once he had them in hand. This was done several times, with the victim continually returning to the store to purchase more of the “gift cards”, for a total of about $2,800 out of pocket. The unsuspecting victim even borrowed money from family to complete the pre-award fee-paying.
A second caller “John Wilson”, also was in contact with the proposed winner to reassure him of his huge win. Both callers identified themselves as the “Federal Trade Commission Department of Publishers Clearing House”.
The man believes that, to secure delivery of his winnings, he may have given out his address, and social security number to the callers.
He was told as of Monday, that everything was all set and he should receive his winnings later that day. That did not happen.
Even after hearing from others, including this newspaper, that this was a scam, and he should not continue to speak with the callers or send any more money, the local man was still unwilling to completely give up on the prospect that it was not a hoax, and he might still get the prizes promised.
A call to Publishers Clearinghouse on HOW a winner would received notification, referred us to this “how to spot a scam” section of their website.
“If you are ever contacted by someone claiming to represent PCH, or claiming to be one of our employees, and asked to send or wire money (for any reason whatsoever, including taxes); or send a pre-paid gift card or Green Dot Moneypak card in order to claim a sweepstakes prize – DON’T! It’s a SCAM.
If you are sent a check, told it’s a partial prize award, and asked to cash it and send a portion back to claim the full prize award, DON’T. The check is fake, but the SCAM is real!
Publishers Clearing House does not operate this way and would NEVER ask for money to claim a prize. PCH employees would never contact you personally or in advance to notify you of a prize award. Our SuperPrize is presented just the way you see it in our popular TV commercials, “live and in person” by our Prize Patrol, with balloons, bouquet of roses and check in hand – – and with no advance notification!
Scammers use any means available ...to deceive you into believing you’ve won a prize and need to send a pre-payment to claim that prize. Don’t fall for it!
PCH continues to actively partner with The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Service, police and law enforcement officials around the country by sharing information we collect to help these regulatory agencies go after the bad guys. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that certain scammers continue to operate. They will do their best to try and deceive you into thinking you are dealing with the real PCH.
The man was encouraged by the Times to notify police immediately. As of Monday (2/28), the man still believed the Prize Van would/could soon arrive.
Four Signs That
It’s a Scam
1. Scammers PRETEND to be from an organization you know.
Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations.
They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID. So the name and number you see might not be real.
2. Scammers say there’s a PROBLEM or a PRIZE.
They might say you’re in trouble with the government. Or you owe money. Or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there’s a virus on your computer.
Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information.
Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.
3. Scammers PRESSURE you to act immediately.
Scammers want you to act before you have time to think. If you’re on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story.
They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, or deport you. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.
4. Scammers tell you to PAY in a specific way.
They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back.
Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
Obviously, the scammers target the more vulnerable and that usually includes the elderly.
What You Can Do to
Avoid a Scam
Block unwanted calls and text messages. Take steps to block unwanted calls and to filter unwanted text messages.
Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.
If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.
Report Scams to the FTC
If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
In prior stories on scams, the Times has reported that as much as $10,000 a week is lost by Wayne County residents to various scams.
Just about every investigator in the County has dealt with the bogus check scam that unwary residents are asked to deposit a fake check into their account and send some of it back. There were several just this week.