Action Report: $500,000 prize call turns out to be scam


Posted on June 11, 2012 at 10:22 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 11 at 10:40 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @billcapo

Helen returned home recently to find a voicemail message waiting for her, and it was thrilling when she heard she won a huge prize from a major national contest.

"I called him back, and he says my name is such and such, and he said you have won $500,0000," said a smiling Helen. "I said wow, that's fantastic, you know.

"He says is it okay that I mail it to you, or special delivery? I said as soon as possible. I can use the money."

"I can't be giving you that kind of money," Helen told the caller. "So he says well surely you must have enough money from your Social Security check to get $500,000 for just $250?"

The real Publisher's Clearing house has been around for decades, has given away millions of dollars. It's so popular that con artists are always trying to pose as Publisher's Clearinghouse in order to take advantage of people. Cynthis Albert of the Better Business Bureau knows just how often they try to take advantage of people form this area. "Absolutely," said Albert. "We get calls on this on a weekly basis."

"It's an outright scam," said Albert. "When anyone sayas that you've won a huge amount of money, or any amount of money, and you have to send something back to them, you know there's a problem. It's an outright scam because they're going to keep your money, and they're going to keep your money and you're not going to get anything."

"I was very angry, not for myself, because I knew that it was a scam," said Helen. "But I'm saying how many other people is he calling?"

The real Publisher's Clearinghouse is the victim of imposters so often that the contest website has warnings and tips about the types of scams and ways to recognize and avoid them. For example, Helen discovered the call she received was from Jamaica, not from the real Publisher's Clearinghouse.

But Helen's joy died when the caller said he was from the well known Publisher's Clearinghouse contest, but she hadn't entered it. Then he asked her to pay 250-dollars to get her prize, using a money order, or a credit card, and that's when Helen put her foot down.