PCH sweepstakes scammer flustered by ‘Walmart’ non shopper

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

A scammer calling Treasure Valley residents about a huge sweepstakes had no catchy comeback for Kathie Hilliard.

“I answered the call and was told I had won $5.5 million, a car and an all expense paid cruise from Publisher’s Clearing House,” she says. “When he finished telling me I’d won, he asked me how I felt about such a big winning.”

Looking at the phone number 876-387-6554, listening to the accent, and knowing she’d never entered the PCH Sweepstakes at any point, she responded.

“I told him it was pretty amazing, especially because I have never entered a contest,” she says.

His comeback to her was this – “You probably just didn’t remember entering when you shopped at CVS or Walmart.”

Hilliard said he mentioned several other stores she didn’t even recognize, before she says, “I told him we don’t have most of those stores in our area, and that I never shop at Walmart.”

But the scammer wasn’t going to give up: “Are you sure?”

“I replied, ‘Yes! I know where I shop and you haven’t named one store, yet,'” she says.

He hung up.

“I guess that means I didn’t really win, huh!?” she says.

Remember this:

Record the call if you can, or take notes and then contact the BBB – Write down the phone number. Then, contact BBB at info@boise.bbb.org or (208)342.4649.

You must enter to win. Remember lottery tickets must be purchased and sweepstakes must be entered to win. Sweepstakes usually involve application paperwork that you have personally completed and government grants have a thorough application process as well.

Never pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. If you have to pay to collect your winnings, you’re not winning. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes” or “shipping and handling charges” to collect your prize.

Never wire money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money’s gone, there’s very little chance of recovery. Likewise, resist any push from the caller to send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier. Con artists recommend these services so they can get their hands on your money before you realize you’ve been cheated.

Phone numbers can deceive. Internet technology allows con artists to disguise their area code so it looks like they’re calling from your local area. But they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

Ask Questions. If the caller has a difficult time answering any “off script” questions, this is a red flag that it’s not legitimate.

Never give personal information. Scammers can be very charming and charismatic and will lure or pressure for personal information.

Foreign lotteries are illegal. Foreign lotteries violate federal law and participating in any way is illegal. The only legal lotteries in the United States are state-run.

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1 Comment

Filed under News You Can Trust, Scam alert

One response to “PCH sweepstakes scammer flustered by ‘Walmart’ non shopper

  1. Mark Burrows

    Personally, I applaud Kathie Hilliard. She kept challenging the caller until he ran out of comebacks that were provided in the script. He knew he had to bail because he was probably told, when in doubt, get out. If any of their team starts to flounder or go off course it will kill the scam. So if you put them off by negating everything they say or turn around and ask questions instead of give answers, it will throw them off and they will scramble to get back on course. That’s where the fun starts because they start tripping over their own tongue and repeating earlier parts of their script. To which you can say, question asked and question answered. If they complain the do not have any answer written down, it’s not your problem.
    When you win a lottery, you almost have to jump through hoops to claim your prize. You have purchased the ticket, you have matched numbers, then you have to contact the specific lottery. Then there is the showing up, smiling for the cameras, and getting the large trophy check, not to mention the balloons and confetti. While in the background an IRS agent is patiently tapping a foot to deliver the bad news that they are going to take a huge chunk of your winnings and you have to find ways to get it back. Sorry, you can’t just go hide in the Cayman Islands or play footsie with Caribbean banks. If you want to do that, you will have to find tax loopholes and claim it back next tax season. Joy.
    So, same thing applies to any cash contest, things are done in a certain way. When you enter them, it is important to read the rules, as well as the terms and conditions. Most contests are drawn once a year, so your odds of winning are miniscule. Still, other prizes are awarded with better odds, but the manner of distribution and they way they contact winners are clearly pointed out in the rules.
    You will find, phone calls do not exist. How ever, you might get a automated call to tell you to pay close attention to your mailbox over the next while. Myself, I don’t care for the teaser call, because others have used it just for promotional purposes and I really have no desire to get exited over junk mail.

    Mark Burrows

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