The scam telephone call starts out by saying you are the winner of the Publishers Clearing House (PCH) sweepstakes. The caller claims to be a PCH attorney who will assist you with claiming your $4.5 million winning prize. They claim they will walk you through the process of claiming the prize and paying money to the National Reserve Bank for a government stamp seal on the winnings. Of course, it’s all a fraud.
Unfortunately, a 78 year-old Smithfield man fell for the scam last week. The victim said he sent $3,900 in cash via a shipping company to an address in South Carolina then sent another letter containing hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards to an address in Indiana.
When the scammers continued to ask for more money to cover additional costs – like taxes and processing fees – the victim became suspicious and notified the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities immediately went to work on the case. Officials said Monday they were working with the shipping company to try and intercept the letters before they are delivered.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) , another variation of the scam involves sending the victim a realistic-looking fake check. The victim is told to deposit the check and return some of the money for made-up expenses. But the check bounces and you are on the hook for the money you sent, according to the FTC.
Here are some tips from the FTC:
- Never send money to collect a prize, sweepstakes check, or lottery winnings. If you have to pay, it’s a scam.
- Never deposit a check and send back money, even if the funds appear in your account. That’s a sure sign of a scam.
- If anyone calls asking you to pay for a prize, hang up and report it to the FTC or your local authorities.