‘Can I have the sheriff here when you come?’ — Reader’s Digest ploy doesn’t frazzle Boise man

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

The calls started Wednesday morning, and came regularly through the afternoon. Loaded with laudatory remarks about being a winner of the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes.

“I remembered entering the sweepstakes,” says Harold Sisco of Boise. “But, I don’t remember when it was that I entered.”

By the time Mr. Sisco finished the phone call, he was told he would need to pay $1,000 for administrative fees, and $150  bond.

The instruction was to buy a money order, put it in a plain white envelope, with a blank sheet of paper, and mail it to Doral, Florida.

“By the time I was done, I’d talked to three different guys,” Mr Sisco says.

While Reader’s Digest is a BBB accredited business and does have a real sweepstakes. To check Reader’s Digest sweepstakes legitimacy, visit the legitimate Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes page at www.rd.com/sweepstakes. It states: “Winners receive an official notification letter in the mail from Ronald J. Leslie, Sweepstakes Director.”

“Our standard practice is NOT to notify winners by telephone and we never ask winners to remit payment in order to claim a prize.”

Don’t call the phone number on the notification. Use a trusted Reader’s Digest source. The customer service number is 1-800-310-2181.

Mr. Sisco had talked with Paul Johnson in New York, Nick McKenzie in Washington D.C., and Mike Petersen, Mike Cohen from New York.

BBB says never send money to receive sweepstakes winnings. Scams may ask for a credit card or bank account number, check, money order, wired money or other finances to pay for taxes, fees, shipping or other bogus reasons. In legitimate cases any fees would be taken out before winnings are received and taxes would be filed with tax returns to the IRS.

After talking with BBB, Mr. Sisco followed the advice and called the toll-free number, where he was told he had not won the sweepstakes.



Filed under Scam alert

4 responses to “‘Can I have the sheriff here when you come?’ — Reader’s Digest ploy doesn’t frazzle Boise man

  1. Mark Burrows

    This is all true. Reader’s Digest does not contact anyone by telephone. Everything is done through the postal service. Reader’s Digest never charges any kind of fee, bond or tax. If you are in a place where taxes are applicable, that is up to you to deal with when tax season is upon you. It is between you and the IRS not distributors of prize winnings. In fact, Reader’s Digest are generous folk and like the gala approach. If you are a big winner, they will even supply transportation, accommodation, and pocket money to fly you to their headquarters for a big banquet with speeches and photo shoots. All of this is above and beyond the prize you have won. If you choose not to, they will bring a banquet to you in your home town at a restaurant of your choosing. They always want to make the best of a photo op. You can even refuse this, but they will still require a photo of you accepting an oversize check with one of their top representatives. They respect your comfort level. Smaller prizes, do not require the gala or photo op and you can either just have a certified check mailed to you or direct deposited into your account. The only fee you would have to face would be from your bank if you do not already have an account set up that will accept direct deposit.
    Another point, Reader’s Digest holds their annual draw for MOST prizes at the end of February, they send out their mailings within 72 hours of the close of the contest. That means winners should have been notified within the first 10 days of March. The only difference is smaller monthly contests and other special contests that do not have large prizes. Still, it is always through the postal service.

  2. Anonymous

    These guys are still at it. They called my neighbor with the same ploy (though they said Publisher’s Clearinghouse this time) and she fell for it. Thank you for posting this – It helped me to pull together the information she needed printed to take to the police station today.

    More information:

  3. Mark Burrows

    Publisher’s Clearing House is even more bizarre. These are the guys who love to show up at your door with the lights, camera, balloons, confetti, and the big check. They like the element of surprise and you get your face splashed all over some network usually looking your worst. No, they don’t phone you and give you the heads up, that would spoil the fun. Now, I don’t know in fact if they send you postal confirmation that you did win, but I do know they do not let you know when they are showing up on your door step.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. I remember commercials of people being surprised/intruded upon with that setup. But just like this posting, they asked for money orders to an address in FL in a plain envelope, she talked to 3 different guys (googling the phone number of the main one led me to this article, and another of the ones she spoke to is named here). She’s a sweet lady who has been through an exceptionally tough year and the fact that people would prey upon others like this makes me sick.

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