Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - The BBB is warning the public to beware of letters that appear to be from Publishers Clearing House (PCH) and claim the recipient has won a grand prize drawing of $2 million dollars or more. Despite these official-looking letters, recipients are the target of a widespread scam that is seeing a resurgence across the country.
The fake notification letters follow on the heels of a legitimate Publishers Clearing House award. not only are letters popping-up in mailboxes, but some people report receiving phone calls from individuals pretending to be from Publishers Clearing House as well.
How the Scam Works
The letters appear to come from Publishers Clearing House and display the official PCH logo. The letters claim the recipient has won over $2 million dollars and instructs consumers to immediately contact a PCH claim agent for further instructions on how to claim their prize winnings.
Some letters also include a check for as much as $5,900 and instructions to call a claims agent name in the fake letter. In order to receive the prize, the consumer is then instructed to cash the check and wire a portion of that, up to $4,000, to Publishers Clearing House in order to receive the rest of the winnings. The check is fraudulent and any money sent by wire transfer cannot be recovered. The check ends up bouncing and the victims also may have to pay penalties to their bank.
Other fake Publishers Clearing House offers come by phone or email and claim funds are needed in advance to pay for insurance before winnings can be received. In this instance, consumers are instructed to put at least $400 on a Green Dot Money Pak Card from their local Walmart, Walgreens etc. and give the money card number to the "official" claims agent before winnings will be delivered.
The BBB recommends the following advice if you receive a similar letter, email or phone call from Publishers Clearing House...