• Madison County Sheriffs Office

Publishers Clearing House Scam

Major David Harper of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Monday, January 30, 2017 a concerned citizen contacted the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to report a scam attempt. The complainant informed Deputy Martin Morris that he had received a call from 1-876-355-5071 originating from Kingston, Jamaica from a person who claimed to a Publishers Clearing House representative. The caller informed the complainant that he had won $1.5 million dollars. The complainant stated that the caller sounded very professional and provided information that was believable. The conversation lasted a substantial length of time and the caller was convincing because the complainant had previously entered a Publisher Clearing House contest. The complainant only became suspicious of the caller when he was instructed not to contact anyone about the winnings and he would have to pay a 10% tax on the prize upfront. The caller told the intended victim that the tax could be paid in 1% increments and instructed him to go to a Wal-Mart and send the first instalment of $1,500 by MoneyGram. The intended victim questioned the caller about the MoneyGram however the caller provided no explanation. At that point the intended victim terminated the call. A family member of the intended victim researched the phone number on the internet and discovered the phone number had been associated with previous scams. Deputy Morris called the number numerous times in attempt to speak to the caller but was unsuccessful on each attempt.

Major Harper reminds citizens of some common signs or “Red Flags” that are indicative of a phone scam. If the call received originated from another country or the number is blocked the call is most likely a scam. Often times the caller will seem to very knowledgeable about the contest or sweepstake they are claiming the intended victim has won. They may sound very professional but will rarely answer any direct questions. Usually the more questions the intended victim asks the angrier the caller will become. This may result in the caller using profanity or threats before abruptly ending the call. Winners of legitimate contests will never be required to pay fees or taxes upfront out of pocket. If the contest is true then whatever fees and taxes are required will be deducted from the prize. Often a vehicle is used as the prize in this scenario. It is common for scammers to threaten to send Local or Federal Law Enforcement to the targets home address with a warrant to arrest them unless a fee is paid to the caller immediately. Law Enforcement will never use this tactic. The scammer will require the target to go to a local CVS, Walgreens’ Wal-Mart, Convenience Store or similar establishment to wire funds via MoneyGram or some type of pre-paid loadable card. This is a guaranteed sign of a scam because the funds become untraceable once transferred by one of these methods. Protect yourself from identity theft and protect your funds from scammers. Never provide or confirm any personal information about yourself, your accounts or your credit cards. If you receive these type of calls attempt to take a name of the caller and record the phone number the call originated from. Hang up and call Law Enforcement.


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