A Circleville, Ohio woman reported losing $8,697 to a sweepstakes scam. She received a letter from the “Publishers Clearing House Award Notification Department”, claiming she had won $600,000 in a one-time payment. Enclosed was a check for $8,697.13 and directions to call a phone number. She called and spoke with someone using the name Andrew Goldberg who told her to deposit the check and tell the bank the money was for roof repairs. The next day, he called back instructing her to keep $100, put the rest of the cash in an envelope, place the envelope in the middle of a magazine, take it to FedEx and deliver it to an address in Atlanta, Georgia. She sent it as a private delivery as requested but later realized the check was bad and she now owed the full amount to the bank.
A 70-year-old woman from Reynoldsburg, Ohio lost $1,950 to a Publishers Clearing House Scam as well. She received a call from a man using the name Dave Sawyer, claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. He told her she had won $8.5 million plus a 2018 Mercedes Benz. The man urged her to keep the situation private, telling her that her friends and family would be asking her for money. In order to finalize everything, the scammer told her to transfer $1,000 to Lauderdale, Florida. The man then called back after receiving the money and asked for $950 more – assuring her that she would soon receive $500,000. She sent the $950 through a Walmart to Walmart money transfer. After, her husband went online and found a phone number for Publishers Clearing House that also ended up being fake. He called and talked to a person named Jonathan Ward who connected him to a Dr. Charles Brown. He was told not to talk to Dave Sawyer again because he was a scammer, but that Dr. Charles Brown could get their money back for $1,000. After explaining that they didn’t have the money, he agreed to take $250 wired through Western Union to an address in Jamaica. The payment failed through Western Union. Growing skeptical, she searched online for how Publishers Clearing House gives out prizes and realized she had been scammed.
You should never have to pay money in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of requests to send money via wire, prepaid debit card, gift card or other unusual forms of payment. You also cannot win a contest you did not enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you’ve been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.