Every year, thousands who have entered the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes wait anxiously for their doorbell to be rung and to find representatives at their door holding a sizable check representing their winnings.  Unfortunately, this anticipation has provided an opportunity for the criminal element which lurks among us to take advantage of the Publisher Clearing House buzz.  The ne’er do well’s have set up call centers (aka boiler rooms) to perpetrate a scam specifically targeting the elderly across the United States.   Here is how the scam played out against an elderly San Diego couple, ages 83 and 79, who lost approximately $30,000.

The couple received a letter with the San Diego County seal affixed which indicated they had won more than $2 million dollars in the Publishers Clearing House lottery.  The letter included a copy of the check made out to the couple.  The couple was instructed to fill out a form and include the necessary tax payment and the check would be delivered.  The couple sent more than $20,000 to various individuals and provided the requested information which included their bank account numbers, social security numbers and other identifying information.  The couple’s bank account was subsequently raided by the criminals and they lost additional funds.

This appears to be a group operating out of southern California, but they are not the only group.  In Jacksonville, a TV reporter received a call informing him how he had won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes and asked him to send $1,500 to cover taxes to cover the taxes.   The reporter’s video story is provided here:  Publisher Clearing House Scam

What can you do?

If you did not enter the Publishers Clearing House lottery, you didn’t win.

If you do win, Publishers Clearing House will NEVER ask you to pay the taxes, those will be deducted from the winnings
Never provide personal identifying information to individuals or entities which you can not validate to your personal satisfaction.  Are they who they say they are? Can you independently verify their identity and association with a given entity?

Take a moment and share the existence of this scam with your elderly friends and family.

 

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Additional Reading:

OFFICIALS WARN PUBLIC ABOUT LOTTERY SCAM
U-T San Diego, on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 04:10:45 -0700.
Officials warned the public Tuesday of a lottery scam targeting the elderly that promises millions, delivers nothing and cost a local couple their life savings. The San Diego husband and wife, ages 83 and 79, lost some $30,000 to the scheme that used

Trusting elders often targets of fraud and scams
Orange County Breeze, on Wed, 14 Aug 2013 14:34:19 -0700
For a variety of reasons, seniors are frequently targeted for fraud and confidence scams. Unfortunately, once they have been victimized a first time a senior citizen is much more likely to be targeted again. Due to embarrassment, the victim is often …