Wallingford, CT - March 31, 2009 – Better Business Bureau is warning the public to beware of letters supposedly from Publishers Clearing House which claim that they have won a grand prize drawing of $1 million. Despite official-looking letters, recipients are the target of a widespread scam that is seeing a sudden resurgence across the country.
The fake letters have shown up in mailboxes in 19 states since early March, on the heels of a legitimate Publishers Clearing House award to a woman who will receive $5000 a week for life. Not only are letters popping-up in mailboxes, but some people report receiving phone calls from scammers pretending to be from Publishers Clearing House as well.
The con artists send letters supposedly from Publishers Clearing House claiming the recipient has won $1 million as the second place winner of a drawing sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine. The letters also include a check for as much as $5,900 and instructions to call a representative named in the fake letter. In order to receive the prize, the consumer is then instructed to cash the check and wire approximately $4,000 to Publishers Clearing House 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.
Connecticut BBB President, Paulette Scarpetti says it may just be a matter of time before victims are targeted in this state.
“The most obvious indication that this is a scam is that people are being given a check, and then asked to wire a portion of it to claim their prize. No legitimate company operates this way. Consumers should never wire money to an unknown individual or company in order to receive something in return. “
While this scam predominantly takes advantage of individuals, business owners also need to be aware that their company’s name could potentially be used by fraudsters to pull off this con. The fraudulent checks sent to the supposed prize winners with the letter 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 that their checks—which included their name, address and even account number—were reproduced as part of the fraud.