Authorities warn people of Publisher’s Clearing House scam

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 10:25 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes has been around for quite a long time now. Hearing you’ve just become a millionaire may sound exciting, but it could also be too good to be true. Scammers are impersonating workers for Publisher’s Clearing House and calling older adults.

Our Amaya Graham spoke with a 76-year-old woman in west Georgia who says she received a call from someone saying that she had won more than 3 million dollars from Publisher’s Clearing House. Hunter Jones with the local Better Business Bureau says PCH will never call you.

Oratine Dabbs says she received a call a couple days ago from someone claiming to be from the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. The person on the phone stated that the Lumpkin, Georgia resident had won 3.5 million dollars and they were headed her way.

“And so I told him I had a funeral to go to - he said, ‘Well OK then we can make it a little later and make it by 4 o’clock.’ He said that will give you time to go to Walmart and get a card and this is after he had talked all this talk about you know everything is free - it’s yours, it’s legitimate.”

Hunter Jones, president of the Better Business Bureau in Columbus, says they receive two to three calls a day about sweepstakes scams. Jones says these scammers will try to have you pay for the taxes by using an untraceable gift card.

“Another big thing is if you win the prize money again, why am I paying you for free money? If it’s a thing, go ahead and deduct about so that’s a huge red flag of this canvas. If they’re asking you to pay money upfront because in reality all they’re trying to do is get you to lose your money.”

Dabbs says she did enter herself into the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes but something about this phone call just did not sit right with her.

“When he starts talking about me putting some money out, I’m like, no I can’t do that right now let. Let me think about that - you know what I mean? Just think about that and see what I can come up with so he said OK just call me when you come from the funeral.”

With many elderly people who may live alone, they easily can become a target. Dabbs says she is grateful she didn’t not fall for the sweepstakes scam.

“Because I knew that it was scam, I knew that that wasn’t true and I know some people do fall for that. Some elderly people have been scammed out of their life savings and so I didn’t want that to happen to anybody else.”

So how do you avoid getting scammed?

“Everybody gets scam phone calls numbers are being spoofed if you don’t recognize the number don’t answer if it’s important enough they’ll leave you a message.”

Hunter jones with the BBB says if you do answer the phone call from the scammer, it’s likely they will sell your phone number and the scam calls will continue.