Troubleshooter Alert: Sweepstakes Scam
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Many people dream of hearing the door bell ringing and being told they were a grand prize winner.
But beware, there are many criminals out there using well-known names to try to steal money. Many have heard of Publishers Clearing House and thieves know that. That's why they continue to pretend to be that company, as that company, in order to convince people to pay for their big prize.
Mary Wileman admitted she was elated when the voice on her phone said she won $2.5 million and a new Mercedes.
Wileman said, “To receive this prize, you are going to have to pay the taxes which amounts to $499.25. So you need to go to the bank.”
They said she needed to go immediately. Time was of the essence for her to get the money to them so they could deliver her prizes. So, Mary and her husband went to a local grocery store with a Western Union inside it.
She said, “I hand her the cash and tell her I want to send it to this person. She looks at me and she says, ‘I don't think you want to do this.’ Well, I knew I didn't want to do it - but I was doing it anyway.”
Mary insisted. The $500 was sent. Then, she was told she would need to send $5,000 more to pay for the insurance on the car.
Mary said, “I knew all along this is crazy and yet I could not control what I was doing, it was like they had a spell on me that I could not break.”
Mary sent cash via express mail. When she left, she had a sinking feeling in her stomach. Mary called Publishers Clearing House directly and learned it was all a fraud. She called police and her postmaster trying to track her package with the cash inside it. As opposed to so many others sweepstakes victims, Mary got good news.
“And he hands me my envelope. I have never cried so hard in my life. He says open it and count it. My $5,950 was in there and I was never so grateful for anything in my life. Because I could not believe at that point the fool I had made of myself by believing these lies,” she said.
Postal inspectors said Mary got caught up and fell prey to the false sense of urgency they create, “Anybody that wants you to send it express is lying to you and it's an attempt to steal your money and do it in a way that you're not going to be able to be able to recover it,” said Daniel Senchesak, a US postal inspector.
Bottom line, remember people never have to pay to win a prize. If you're told you have to pay something-- stop --because you know it's definitely a scam.