On Saturday while we were on a trip to Pennsylvania, my cellphone rang and the male voice with an odd accent said he was from Publisher's Clearing House (PCH) and that my wife, Jackie, had won their famous sweepstakes.
He said she would receive $1.5 million plus $7,000 per month for life and that the Prize Patrol would be coming to our house at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow, complete with balloons and all the hoopla, and that we would be rich.
They called from the number 876-395-3569 (Kingston, Jamaica) twice on my cellphone and asked for Jackie, when he finally got through. He said the Patrol would include PCH employees Dave Sayer, Paul Cott and Michelle Allen and we needed to be sure to be home to receive them.
The man said no taxes would be due this year, but we would owe 2% of the total for 2019 and that we would receive a 1099 so we could report the income to the federal government.
There was just one catch.
To get the money, he said we needed to pay $1,325 to the federal government in advance for some sort of "license" to cut the check legally in South Carolina.
I asked him how we were supposed to do that in time to have a check delivered to us tomorrow. But before he could answer, the connection was lost. He called back, though, this time from a second number, 850-725-0778, Pensacola, FL, and said the payment would not go to PCH (him), but to the "senior accountant at the Federal company."
I said, "who is the "Federal company?"
The connection was lost again. So I called back the first number, and the same man answered. However, he denied he was with PCH and knew nothing about the previous call.
So, I called the second number and got a woman who answered the phone as Publisher's Clearinghouse. I asked her how we were supposed to pay the $1325 in time to get our check on Tuesday, and she said we could just send a check.
"Really?" I said. "We just mail a check? Where do we send it?"
She said to wait until she talked to a supervisor. When she came back on the line, I told her to stop calling us that I knew it was a scam. The line went dead.
So much for millions of dollars, a hacienda on a tropical island, a big boat, fancy car, a round-the-world vacation, and a few dollars left over for our kids and grandkids. So much for the balloons, the TV cameras, the roses for Jackie, and a bunch of envious neighbors.
Turns out this scam is being tried by a number of perps and many people have been victimized. PCH is well aware and has issued this warning to consumers. Most importantly, PCH never calls in advance -- they just show up to surprise the winners. And secondly, they NEVER ask for money iin order to receive the prize. In fact, that is illegal.
So just a word to the wise. If somebody calls you and says you've won the famous Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes and asks if you'll be home, you know it's a scam.
Just a word to the wise.