BBB Warns Phony Publishers Clearing House Letters Land In Mailboxes Across The Country

April 06, 2009

DAYTON, OHIO, April 6, 2009 - Your Better Business Bureau is warning you to beware of letters supposedly from Publishers Clearing House claiming you’ve won a $1 million grand prize drawing. Despite how official the letters might look, recipients are targets of a national resurgence of this widespread scam.

"It’s not surprising the increased prevalence of this scam comes after the actual Publishers Clearing House awarded a New Jersey woman $5,000 a week for the rest of her life," said John North, BBB president and CEO. "Scammers often steal from headlines and operate in the wake of newsworthy events like this one because they know it’ll be on top of people’s minds."

The scam occurs when victims receive letters supposedly from Publishers Clearing House claiming they’re $1 million second place winners of drawings sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine. The letters are accompanied by checks for as much as $5,900 with instructions to call the Publishers Clearing House representatives listed in the letters. To receive prizes, victims are told by phone they must cash checks and wire approximately $4,000 to Publishers Clearing House and the rest of the winnings will be sent to them. The checks, however, are fraudulent and money wired to scammers cannot be recovered.

Since early March, reports of the Publishers Clearing House scam have come in from 19 states, including California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Not only are letters showing up in mailboxes, but some people report receiving phone calls from scammers pretending to be with Publishers Clearing House as well.

While this scam predominantly takes advantage of individuals, business owners also need to be aware their company names could be used in this scam. Fraudulent checks sent to the supposed prize winners with letters are copies of checks from legitimate businesses which have been stolen by the scammers. Businesses located in Alabama, California, Kansas and West Virginia have discovered their checks—which included their names, addresses and even account numbers—were reproduced as part of the scam.

Contact your BBB for more information on this and other scams. Visit or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley

Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit for more information about your BBB.