Louisa County Sheriff's Office wants to make you aware of a scam that has been reported in our area. This scam starts with a call or letter saying you have won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, but in order to collect your prize you have to collect your prize you will have to send money to pay for fees and taxes. This scam is being perpetuated by imposters and not the real Publishers Clearing House. Typically you will be asked to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or by getting a reloadable card or gift card. Scammers will usually ask you to pay in this way because it is nearly impossible to trace the money or to ever get it back.
But that’s not the only way scammers get their money with this scam. Some will send you a realistic-looking "FAKE CHECK" in the mail. You’re told that to claim your prize, you need to deposit the check and send some of the money back for made-up expenses. But when the check you deposit bounces, (and it will) — even after it seemed to clear — you will then be responsible for the money you sent. They also advise the victim that the security code and prize information must be kept confidential as "required by Federal and State law", in other words, don't tell law enforcement.
There are a few tips to help you spot a Publishers Clearing House/Sweepstakes scam:
- Publishers Clearing House NEVER emails or calls its big winners or sends out winning notices in bulk mail
- You do not have to give out confidential information when you enter a legitimate sweepstakes
- You NEVER have to pay to receive a legitimate Publisher Clearing House prize, Scammers always want you to pay to receive your winnings
- Sweepstakes scams send you a large check with your win notice
- You can always verify your wins with Publishers Clearing House, so if you believe you have really won something - verify it before giving out any information or sending anyone any money
- Sweepstakes scams may ask for bank or credit card info to receive your prize
- Sweepstakes scams pressure you to act in a hurry
- If they say that you are a winner in some sort of "lottery" it is usually a scam
- Sweepstake scams may pretend to come from a government organization.
If you still think that the call or email is real, check out the Publishers Clearing House’s fraud protection page.