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  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Publishers Clearing House, ,   

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again 

    Sweepstakes scam targeting the elderly again

    By Greg Collier

    It appears that the scammers who pose as Publishers Clearing House are wreaking havoc again, And, as always, they’re targeting the elderly in their scams. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the magazine marketing company that runs the country’s most well-known sweepstakes. We’ve all seen their commercials where their Prize Patrol van pulls up to a lucky winner’s home and presents them with a novelty-sized check for a substantial amount of money.

    Instead of pulling up in a van, scammers will call their victims while posing as PCH. The scammers will tell their victims that they’ve won one of the cash prizes. Then, the scammers will inform the victim that the victim needs to pay either a tax on their supposed winnings or some kind of processing fee. These scams tend to target the elderly, since they’re one of the larger demographics who participate in the sweepstakes.

    Recently, several elderly victims have fallen for this scam. In Maryland, a man was scammed out of $1500 when a phony PCH representative told the man he needed to pay $1500 in eBay gift cards to claim his prize. A 93-year-old woman from Pennsylvania was scammed out of $3000 after she gave the scammers access to her bank account. And an 81-year-old woman, also from Pennsylvania, was scammed out of $15,000 after she was promised a prize.

    This is known as the advance fee scam. It’s called that, since victims are paying a fee in hopes of getting a bigger payout. In some instances, once scammers will receive the first payment, they’ll come up with more fraudulent scenarios where they’ll ask the victims to pay even more money while still dangling the promise of a huge cash prize in front of them.

    The best way to prevent someone from falling for this scam is to keep the one phrase in mind that’s included in every sweepstakes in the US, no purchase necessary. It’s illegal for anyone who runs a sweepstakes to collect money before a prize is awarded. Even on PCH’s own website, they go into extensive detail how to recognize a scammer from the real thing.

    So please keep in mind, if someone asks you for money to claim a prize, you haven’t won. Paying for a prize is only a losing proposition.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , pinhole camera, Publishers Clearing House, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: New sweepstakes scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    Today we’re our readers three more scams that are happening around the country that could be coming to your area.

    ***

    In Raleigh, North Carolina, people are reporting being called by scammers posing as Publisher’s Clearing House telling them that they’re winners in the famous sweepstakes. PCH’s name has been used in scams for a number of years. What’s different this time is the scammers are leaving voicemail messages that say, “This is a legitimate call notifying you that you have won.” That’s the equivalent of leaving a message that says, “We’re totally not scammers, we promise.” If you were to call the number provided, you would more than likely be lured into an advance fee scam, where the scammers would get you to pay a phony tax or processing fee on your winnings. That’s illegal in the US, and why all legitimate sweepstakes say that no purchase is necessary.

    ***

    It was brought to the attention of police in Fairfield, California, that an ATM had a small camera known as a pinhole camera attached to it. The camera was attached to what was supposed to be a rearview security mirror. The camera is used in an operation known as skimming. Skimmers are usually attached to the card reader to get the information from your debit card’s magnetic strip. However, the camera helps the scammers get your card number and PIN. Devices like this are normally attached to freestanding ATMs like the ones in convenience stores and gas stations. However, bank ATMs are not immune to these devices.

    ***

    Recently, the state of Pennsylvania has issued a warning to its residents about text messages related to unemployment benefits. Some residents of the Keystone State have received text messages saying that their unemployment benefit debit card has been frozen. The text contains a link to supposedly verify the recipient’s identity and card status. Clicking such a link could lead to identity theft or having malware infect your device. The state has said that they never send out text messages with embedded links.

    ***

    While these scams may not be happening in your area right now, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t. But now you have the knowledge to protect you if they do.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Publishers Clearing House, ,   

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam 

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam

    By Greg Collier

    Police in Oregon are warning about a new rash of sweepstakes scams or advance fee scams, as they’re sometimes known. In this scam, the scammers pose as a sweepstakes company, usually Publishers Clearing House since they’re the most well-known. The victim will receive a call, text or email telling them that they’ve won a big jackpot, except they need the victim to pay them taxes or a processing fee. Also, the victim needs to keep this matter private, so the local media supposedly doesn’t find out. These scams often target the elderly and when a victim pays once, the scammers will keep coming back for more. Now, scammers are using a new tactic to make sure the victim keeps paying.

    According to a report out of Oregon, the sweepstakes scammers make the victims pay by check. Once the scammers receive that check, they’re calling the victim back, posing as the FBI. The phony investigators tell the victim that the check they wrote was fraudulent. The scammer then threatens the victim with arrest if they don’t make another payment. Essentially, the scammers are combining two scams into on, the advance fee scam and the police impersonation scam. As you probably surmised, the police impersonation scam involves scammers posing as police, usually telling the victim they have a warrant out for their arrest, and that the victim needs to pay over the phone to make the warrant go away.

    Please keep in mind that you can’t win prizes from a sweepstakes you never entered. Plus, it’s also illegal for any sweepstakes to make you pay for any prize. As far as the FBI goes, no law enforcement agency will call you on the phone asking for money and threatening you with arrest if you don’t pay. The report from Oregon gives a great tip when it comes to police impersonation phone calls. Ask the caller for their phone number and tell them that you’ll call them back after speaking with your attorney. If they try to pressure you into staying on the phone, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Publishers Clearing House, ,   

    Victim refuses to believe they’re being scammed 

    Victim refuses to believe they're being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    What can you do when someone you know is caught up in the middle of a scam, and they refuse to believe they’re being scammed. That’s the question that a community in Central Florida is currently struggling with. One of their neighbors is a 91-year-old woman who believes she won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. She received a phone call last year telling her that she had won $10 million. Since then, the scammers have continuously strung this woman along into making payments under the guise of taxes she needs to pay on her prize.

    Neighbors estimate that she’s paid at least $150,000 to these scammers. The woman is also said to have no cognitive disabilities, but just refuses to believe any evidence that she’s being scammed. It got to the point where she not only sold her car, but also placed her home on the market to try to pay these fictitious taxes for her non-existent prize. Her neighbors have reached out to police and the state Attorney General’s office, who both say they’re investigating the matter. One neighbor even contacted the woman’s bank to make them aware of possible fraud from the scammers.

    Some retirees love to play the lottery and enter sweepstakes as a form of entertainment. So, it’s very likely that the woman did enter the sweepstakes she believes she won. However., it’s illegal in the US for any sweepstakes to ask for money in exchange for prizes. Any legitimate sweepstakes will tell you that no purchase is necessary. The Better Business Bureau has said that sweepstakes scams claimed more money from victims than any other scam in 2020 according to the complaints they’ve received.

    If you know someone who you think might be vulnerable to this scam, please let them know that it’s illegal to make someone pay for a sweepstakes prize.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Publishers Clearing House, ,   

    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.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Publishers Clearing House, ,   

    A new twist on the sweepstakes scam 

    A new twist on the sweepstakes scam

    Sweepstakes scams seem to be on the rise in the current uncertain economic climate. With so many people desperate for money to help make ends meet, it’s no surprise that this scam is proliferating. Normally in a sweepstakes scam, the scammer will contact a potential victim out of the blue and tell them that they’ve won some kind of monetary prize. Scammers will often claim to be from Publishers Clearing House since it’s such a popular sweepstake. If a scammer claims to be from PCH they have a pretty good chance that they’ll find a victim who actually entered the PCH sweepstakes.

    The hook of the sweepstakes scam is that the scammer will ask for some kind of payment before you can collect your prize. They’ll either say the payment is for taxes or processing. However, once you send the payment, the scammers disappear with your money.

    Recently, in Kansas the Brown County Sheriff has reported a sweepstakes scam where the scammers are trying to double dip their victims. In many cases, if a scammer finds a victim to give them money, the scammers will sometimes string the victim along to try to get the victim to make additional payments.

    In the Kansas scam, someone is claiming to be from PCH and is calling residents telling them that they’ve won. The victim is then instructed to send a money order to an address in Ohio before they can receive the check.

    Here’s what’s unusual about this scam. Once the victim sends the money order, they actually receive a check. The check that is sent to the victims ranges in value from $250,000 to $500,000. Then the scammer contacts the victim again and tells them that they need to send another payment to a different address in order to be able to cash the check. When the Sheriff’s Office investigated the check, it traced back to a bank in Africa.

    If you ever enter into any sweepstakes, please keep in mind that it is illegal for sweepstakes to ask you to pay anything before receiving your winnings. Even on PCH’s own website they state that if someone claims to be from PCH and asks you for money it is a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Publishers Clearing House, ,   

    Sweepstakes scammers show up at man’s door 

    Sweepstakes scammers show up at man's door

    Usually, today’s scammers like to be as far away from their victims as possible. Between the internet and cheap phone rates, scammers can target just about anyone anywhere around the globe. However, every once in awhile a scammer will take it to the next level to try to fool their victim.

    That happened to a man in New Jersey recently. Scammers targeted him in a sweepstakes or lottery scam. The way the scam normally works is scammers will contact random people to tell them that they’ve won a great deal of money in a contest that they didn’t actually enter. The scammers will then say that the ‘winner’ has to either pay taxes or some kind of transfer fee on their winnings before they can collect it. Even if the victim pays there are no winnings and the victim is usually out thousands of dollars.

    The scammers in this case posed as the most famous sweepstakes in America, the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. We’ve all seen the commercials over the years of PCH delivering oversized novelty checks to their winners. The scammers, in this case, called the man repeatedly to tell him that he had won one of their renowned prizes. They told him a representative would show up at his door with the prize. A woman actually showed up to his home claiming to be from PCH and was said to be holding a bouquet of flowers to make the illusion seem more authentic. Thankfully, the man was on to the scam and threatened to call the police if they did not leave his property. The woman got into a waiting car and left.

    No legitimate sweepstakes or lottery will ask you for tax money or fees in advance if you win as that is illegal in the United States. There’s also no such thing as winning a contest that you didn’t even enter.

    While we all dream of winning a giant jackpot to relieve our financial woes, don’t let the dream cloud your common sense.

     
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