Posts Tagged Publishers Clearing House

WWII vet’s widow loses ‘everything’ to scam

Alison Morrow, KING 5 News10:55 p.m. PST November 14, 2014

SEATTLE — The letter promised millions, claiming a Publishers Clearing House winner, and was sealed with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s misspelled name.

“In the value of $9,222,350.00,” Marjorie Flatum read.

The 90-year-old widow had to do one simple thing to claim her prize: send money.

“First I gave them $70,000,” she remembered. “That was my retirement savings.”

It was “federal deposit insurance” the scam artists promised to return, but then they asked for more.

This time, Flatum took out a reverse mortgage on her home for $300,000 – the home her husband built with his own hands.

“It was a scam,” she soon learned. “I lost everything. I was devastated.”

The Publishers Clearing House scam is so common, the sweepstakes warns consumers on their website.

“You think, ‘Oh my God. Could I have won?'” Janice Rochester said.

The 81 year old from Ballard just got the call. A regular Publishers Clearing House participant, Rochester almost believed it.

“He said, ‘We can’t just send you this money,'” Rochester said.

The man asked for her bank routing number. So, Rochester hung up, sure it was a scam.

“It’s crooked as can be,” she said. “It’s fraud.”

Flatum wishes she’d done the same. On PCH’s website, the organization warns consumers that they never notify big winners by social media, phone, or email. They also never ask for money as a deposit.

“Why did I ever fall for that?” she said.

Flatum has piles of paper. Receipts covered with numbers that don’t come close to counting how desperate she feels.

“I need some help,” she said. “I really need some help.”

Her husband was injured as a Marine fighting in WWII. The flag from his coffin sits near Flatum’s Christmas tree, under the roof he built that Flatum’s worried she’ll lose.

She’s contacted law enforcement, including the FBI, all of whom have told her the money is gone.

“I can’t believe they could go to bed at night and sleep and do that kind of stuff to a 90-year-old woman and deplete me of all our assets. I cannot believe!” she said.

For more information on how to avoid PCH scams, visit the Publishers Clearing House tips and warning signs page.

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Victim of Sweepstakes Scam Becomes Middle Man for Con Artists

Updated: Dec 31, 2013 11:00 PM EST

By Tammy Elliott

What a way to celebrate the new year: you receive a letter announcing you’ve won a major sweepstakes. But there’s a new warning about a fraudsters using the popular “Publishers Clearing House” name to rip off consumers.

One victim of this scam is speaking out.  He says he was delighted when he got a letter telling him he won.

“It said it was from Publisher’s Clearing House and it showed a sample check for $1.5 million dollars,” said the victim, who did not want to be identified.

This victim is still embarrassed that he was lured into a scheme that cost him hundreds of dollars.

When he received the letter, he contacted the name and number.  He was told he needed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes to collect the winnings.

The victim said he didn’t have the money, but that didn’t stop the fraudsters from reeling him in.

“They have a solution for him. What they describe as ‘prior winners’ can ‘sponsor’ him and provide payment to meet the necessary payments to get the prize,” said Larry Dodson, U.S. Postal Inspector (Retired).

The victim unknowingly turned into a middle man for con artists.

He was receiving checks from other people who believed they are paying off taxes on their jackpot.  He cashed the checks, and spent hundreds of dollars sending packages overnight to Canada.

After re-shipping almost $119,000, the victim got a call from Canadian police who intercepted one of the packages.

“‘Why are you sending this to Canada?’

I said, ‘to pay taxes to win my Publisher’s Clearing House winnings.'”

“They said, ‘we don’t collect taxes unless you are a Canadian citizen.’ That kind of threw me. Then all of a sudden when I tried to call these people, the numbers were all disconnected. That’s when I knew I had been taken,” said the victim.

In the end, the victim said he learned a valuable lesson.

“I should have called Publishers Clearing House to see if this exists. Had I done that, none of this would have probably happened. I have no one to blame but myself.”

Publisher’s Clearing House even warns about these type of scams on its website:

The company reminds people no legitimate contest will ever ask for fees or taxes to be paid up front. Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a fraudulent contact using the name of Publishers Clearing House is urged to call 1-800-392-4190. You can also forward suspicious emails to

You can report these fraudulent letters to help postal inspectors track down who could be responsible by visiting this website: or by calling 877-876-2455.

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Elaborate Publisher’s Clearing House Scam Uncovered

October 5, 2013   Fox40   Sacramento Stockton Modesto

THORNTON – The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department uncovered an elaborate case of fraud Friday morning.

According to the report, the victims of the scam were contacted on Tuesday by an alleged Publisher’s Clearing House employee, who told them that they had won $600,000 from a contest from four years ago. The fake employee told them the check was taken from the mail and cashed in Mexico, where the non-existent suspect was in jail.

The alleged employee then told the victims to expect a call from an FBI agent.

The call came that afternoon. The alleged FBI agent told the victims that he had negotiated to send the money via mail from Mexico, and that a sheriff from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department would call them to verify the FBI agent’s identification, and that this wasn’t a fraud case.

Wednesday, the victims received a call from a person alleged to be San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore, who told them that he was contacted by the alleged FBI agent, who verified the situation to him.

The fake FBI agent called them again, telling them that because the money was coming from Mexico to the United States that they would have to pay a duty tax, consisting of two payments of $1,400. The victims took out the $2,800 and sent the first $1,400 to Mexico City via Western Union on Wednesday. The second payment was sent on Thursday.

In addition, the victims also received a call from a fake US Customs agent on Wednesday. The alleged agent told them he had a package for them from Mexico City and that they were going to receive it, as long as it didn’t contain any drugs.

The fake FBI agent called them again Thursday, telling them that he would be sending them documents to fill out for tax purposes and for them to be able to get the money. The forms turned out to be true documents, but were being used for nefarious purposes in this case.

Friday, the victims called the Sheriff’s Department when they did not receive a call from the alleged FBI agent. The fake agent was supposed to call with a tracking number for them to receive the money.

The Sheriff’s Department investigated the case, and sent out deputies to North Lamb Road in Thornton around 10:05 a.m.

The San Joaquin Sheriff’s Department warns anyone to beware if they receive any calls about this manner, because it is a scam. Any suspicious phone calls are asked to be reported to local law enforcement.

Ruben Dominguez filed this report.

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Publishers Clearing house scam

Belle Vernon woman foils phone scam

By Chris Buckley     The Valley Independent

Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.   TribLive
Updated 8 hours ago

Dorothy Moss has been buying products from Publishers Clearing House for years.

Still, she was suspicious when she started getting telephone calls last week from a man telling her she had just won $100,000 from the organization — especially when the caller told the 90-year-old Belle Vernon woman she would have to send in a $250 check to claim her prize.

“I didn’t understand why I had to pay to collect,” Moss said.

So Moss called Southwest Regional Police, who advised her it was a scam and not to do anything. Moss was instructed to tell the caller that police would like to talk to him.

Moss said while the caller was persistent, she was too.

“I told him, ‘I’m not giving you $250,’” Moss said. “He finally said, ‘I’ll get back to you.’”

Southwest Regional Police traced the call to a residence in Compton, Calif. The department notified the Los Angeles Police Department, which is investigating the case as well.

Southwest police Chief John Hartman sent LAPD a photo of the location where Moss was instructed to mail the $250 check.

“The caller had the nerve to call her back and say, ‘We called the police and they said it’s OK to send a check,’” Hartman said. “I told her absolutely not.

“Legitimate sweepstakes do not ask you to pay money to collect. Clearly, this was a scam.”

Hartman said he has not heard of the scam occurring with any other local residents, but said he may hear from other potential victims now that the scam has been made public.

Hartman said his department remains in contact with LAPD.

“If we can identify the person who called, we will file charges,” Hartman said. “If we get enough evidence, we will file charges.”

Moss said she hopes going public with the would-be scam will prevent others from falling prey to the crime.

“They’re preying on elderly people who don’t have much money,” Moss said.

Publishers Clearing House is a firm based in Port Washington, N.Y., that sells merchandise and magazine subscriptions. The company uses online and direct-mail sweepstakes, contests and prize promotions to market its products.

Hartman said Publishers Clearing House is a legitimate company.

Moss agrees. On Monday, she sent in a new order to Publishers Clearing House.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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