Mich. residents taken for $150,000 in sweepstakes scam

A new twist on the sweepstakes scam

By Greg Collier

By now, most of us are familiar with Publisher’s Clearing House. They’re the magazine marketing company that also runs its eponymous sweepstakes. We’ve all seen the commercials where their prize van pulls up to someone’s home and surprises them with a novelty-sized check that represents a substantial pay out. Since PCH is so well known, their name is often used by scammers so they can dupe their victims. Unfortunately, two residents of Michigan found that out the hard way.

Two married residents of Troy, Michigan were contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of PCH. The residents were told that they had won $5,000 a month for life, or they could take the lump sum payment of $2.6 million. If they took the lump sum, however, they would need to pay $129,000 in state and local taxes before they could be paid. The supposed PCH agent even told the residents that they shouldn’t tell anyone about their winnings because of cyberattacks. Before the scam was discovered by the post office after they intercepted one of the cash payments being sent to the scammers, the two residents found themselves in the hole for close to $144k.

There’s a reason that the disclaimer on every sweepstakes in America says ‘no purchase necessary’. If you’ve entered a sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay to receive your winnings. It’s illegal for any sweepstakes to make you do so. Also, you can’t win a sweepstakes that you never entered. Cash prizes are not handed out to random citizens for no reason. Publisher’s Clearing House has quite an extensive web page showing all the ways that scammers may try to fool you while using the PCH name.

This post is not an endorsement of Publisher’s Clearing House. But since their name is synonymous with American sweepstakes, it’s also become synonymous with sweepstakes scammers.