By Robb Hicken/ chief storyteller
For 74-year-old Alice of Meridian, it was a slip in judgment and it cost her.
Publishers Clearing House (PCH), headquartered in Port Washington, N.Y., is a leading multi-channel direct marketer of value-based consumer products and magazines and a respected leader in the direct marketing industry.
Everyone dreams of winning a PCH sweepstakes, but in most cases, prize notifications coming through the mail are nothing more than attempts to steal your money.
Alice, who has entered the sweepstakes on many occasions online, says she was gleefully surprised when she received a letter in the mail notifying her she’d been selected to receive $650,000.
“Who wouldn’t want to win that much money,” she said in an interview recently.
BBB warns sweepstakes scams have cheated consumers nationwide out of millions of dollars in recent years. Such circumstances arise when people put too much faith in strangers in the belief they will win large sums of money or expensive vehicles and prizes.
Alice says when she called the 1-800 telephone number (800-705-4260) to confirm, a man named John Parker celebrated with her over the sweepstakes win.
“He was very polite, enthusiastic and friendly,” she says. “He didn’t sound like con artist.”
When Parker instructed her to prepare two packets of cash to pay for processing and insurance fees, Alice did not recognize the warning signs. The instructions were to place the cash inside two separate magazines, place the magazines inside a manila envelope, and then mail them to two different addresses.
She did as she was instructed and sent the envelopes by FedEx to Rich McCoy, Suite 620, 1085 Home St., Vancouver, BC, 46Z21P6, and to Ben Beck, Suite 184, 2498 W. 34th Ave., Vancouver, BC 46MZA7.
When she called Parker on his cell, (604-700-9775) and let him know it was on the way, he was so excited to be one step closer to her receiving her money.
“I took a $3,000 cash advance on two different credit cards to get the money to send,” Alice explained. “I took the rest of it out of my savings.”
In total, Alice mailed $12,000 in cash to Canada. By the time she repays the bank, it will be well over $20,000 that she will have lost.
The BBB office receives between 10 and 20 phone calls a week from people asking about lottery or sweepstakes notifications. And often, the callers cannot believe they are being scammed.
Alice repeatedly said she felt so gullible, so duped, and so dumb for having fallen for this scam.
“I guess I’ll never see that money again,” she says. “I just glad the account manager at my bank [Wells Fargo] helped me straighten this out.”
- Nearly all of mail notifications are fraudulent.
- You should never send cash to receive winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes.
- Never wire money – Wire transfers are like cash and can’t be recovered.
- Be suspect of winning something you never bought a ticket for or entered.
- Foreign lotteries are illegal. Check the postage on the envelope and if it is a foreign stamp, throw the letter away.