A new scam has begun to surface in southeastern Indiana and officials are concerned it could move to our area. While the scam is by no means new, it has been successful for the scammers in other areas of the United States. The scam involves a phone call advertising the target that they have placed second or third in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, winning hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are asked to wire money via Western Union to cover taxes and processing fees.
As is always the case when asked to pay up front for so-called “winnings,” this is a scam. If you receive such a call, ask yourself this question: “Did I enter the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes?” If you didn’t enter or send anything in, how could you be a winner? If you did enter, check the phone number from which you received the call, particularly the area code. Visit http://www.bennetyee.org/ucsd-pages/area.html to get a listing of area codes. The most recent calls in southeastern Indiana originated from area code “876,” a Jamaican area code. If the area code is from outside the United States, that is a huge red flag.
To really drive the point home, officials are reminding Hoosiers that the actual Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes winners are never contacted by phone and they do not have to pay any money up front to receive their cash prize. It is important to remember, if you fall for one of these scams and send money to some location within the United States, it’s nearly impossible for U.S. law enforcement to recover the money and locate the scammers. If the money is sent outside the United States, there is absolutely nothing U.S. law enforcement can do to help you recover your loss.
Keep this in mind: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Don’t let yourself become a victim.