By Mike Wilcox, Publisher
I can’t count the number of times I have received a press release or an email from a local law enforcement agency, detailing the latest scam that attempts to lure senior citizens and others in to parting with their hard-earned savings.
The latest are IRS scams. Authentic sounding IRS agents will call you and demand money for taxes that supposedly haven’t been paid. They will be very threatening, asking that you send money immediately to a P.O. Box. However, these calls are usually coming from scammers located in Nigeria, India or some other foreign land.
There is another scam that claims you have won money from Publisher’s Clearing House. Now we have all seen the ads of lucky winners on television over and over. Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s sidekick for many years, was always presenting million dollar checks to ordinary people in small ranch houses. Many of us dreamed one day we would be the lucky person receiving the check.
Well a fellow publisher tells a true story of his brush with Publisher’s Clearing House fame and fortune. Here it is:
“I received a telephone call from a man who identified himself as David, who represented Publishers Clearing House. He asked if I had received a letter telling me I had won a prize.
I hadn’t, and told him so. He told me that I had won $453,000 and an automobile and that the prizes would be delivered today.
I thanked him and asked what I had to do. He gave me an identification number and the number of the $453,000 check and a telephone number that I was to call to verify who I am.
I dialed the number, and it was blocked. I dialed it several times more, and, each time it was blocked.
A few minutes later, I received a call from a man who identified himself as Dave Bradley, manager of Publishers Clearing House Awards office. He told me that my award was really $346,000, because all the taxes were deleted before I receive it.
He asked if I wanted a private or a public delivery. I said private, and he told me that the check and automobile would arrive with five people; one lawyer, two state troopers for security, the UPS driver towing the automobile, and himself, who would make the presentation.
Of course I was thrilled. What he needed next was confirmation of my home address. That was given, and then Bradley passed me on to a woman named Grees who told me what to do: Go to the Customer Service Desk at WalMart and sign a registration form and put a serial number on it. She gave me the number. Then she told me that the registration form would cost $455.99 in cash.
Bradley came back on the line and asked if I had the cash. I said “why, at WalMart I can use a credit card or check.” He said no way, WalMart for this, had to have cash.
I said, “ok.”
He then instructed me to leave my cellphone on so he can give me instructions about the registration form. I did, but I didn’t hear from him on the way.
At the Customer Service Desk, I asked to speak to the manager. As assistant manager came down, and I identified myself and explained why I was there.
She told me that WalMart had no connection with Publishers Clearing House and she knew nothing about any prize awards.
As I returned to my car, my cellphone rang. It was Bradley. He wanted to know why I had turned off my phone. I told him that I had not and that I heard nothing from him. Then I told him what the assistant manager had said.
“Are you saying that you are turning down the $346,000 and the automobile? He asked.
“Yes,” I said, as I hung up, driving away.
NOW THE PUBLISHER knew all along this was a scam. He simply wanted to play it out, to see to what length the scammers would go to get $500. He and I believe it is important for readers to realize the old adage fits here- “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
There are lots of scammers out there attempting to prey on those of us that might appear somewhat gullible. If you don’t know someone PLEASE do not wire or mail them money. If you are told you have won oodles of money from Publishers Clearing House or a foreign lottery, PLEASE know you do not have to give money to get money.