April 4, 2013
How I almost won $2.5 million dollars from the Publisher's Clearing House . . .
Confession: I like entering giveaways. Each year, I enter the HGTV Dream Home giveaway hoping that I'll win. I also enter the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes from time to time. I know it's more likely that I'll get struck by lightening while dancing a tango in the rain, but still . . . it doesn't cost anything to enter, and someone's got to win, right?
Well today, Publisher's Clearing House called. Or at least a Jamaican guy pretending to be from the Publisher's Clearing House. The first guy called about 9 AM.
PCH: "Yes, Hello. Congratulations, sweetie. You have won a prize from the Publisher's Clearing House."
Me: "Oh, really? (insert highly skeptical "yeah, right" tone of voice).
PCH: "Yes, sweetie. It is your lucky day. God is blessing you today.
The conversation went on for a couple minutes.
PCH: Would you like to receive the prize privately, just between you and God, or publicly with the van and cameras from the television station.
Me: Oh, I definitely want the TV cameras there. I'd like to see you pull that off.
PCH: OK, Sweetie. We will deliver the prize to your residence today. Don't worry, I never gave him my address.
I could tell from the get-go that it was a scam. First of all, I highly doubt the professionals at Publisher's Clearing House would be calling people "sweetie." I also know for a fact that they would not ask me to send them a prepaid gift card for $397.05 which OF COURSE would be returned to me from my winnings.
Big. Fat. Scam. Plain and simple. I told the guy, "Thanks, but there's no way I'm sending you money." He tried to assure me he didn't want my money: that he's worked for the company for 15 years, he has a college degree (not sure how that's relevant to the conversation), and how the company reimburses you once you receive your prize.
I obviously didn't fall for it. I hung up the phone and went on about my business. Of course I did post on Facebook telling my friends to be on the look out for the Publisher's Clearing House van that was SURE to be on it's way to my house *wink, wink.
I went on about my business. Loaded up my boys and went up to the church for Ladies Bible Study. Maybe I should have left a note for the Publisher's Clearing House guys . . .
I came home from Bible study and started fixing my boys some food for lunch. The phone rang and I saw the same phone number. Same guy. I grabbed my cell phone and decided to have some fun and play along:
Even after telling the guy that I was an extra-terrestrial, living in a space ship that I bought for $4 million dollars, he still continued his pitch.
The sad thing is that there are hundreds of people who fall for it and send their hard earned money to criminals. Those who try calling the number back often face international phone call charges. Be wary of phone calls with an "876" area code. If you have elderly loved ones, you might want to remind them never to share personal information over the phone (unless it's that they're an alien living in a four million dollar space ship).
In case you were wondering, the Publisher's Clearing House does not call you and tell you that you've won a prize, and they certainly will not ask you to send them money - no reputable sweepstakes organization will every make you pay to claim your prize. Any taxes due are payable directly to the United States government. I found this handy fraud protection page on the Publisher's Clearing house website.
It stinks that there are criminals out there that are so anxious to steal money from people, especially from the elderly who often struggle to survive on pensions and social security.
I'm not sure if my "friend" will be calling me back. Even if he does, I'm not picking up any more. I'm too busy planning how to spend my $2.5 million dollars . . . .