Scam targeting sweepstakes entrants
BERRYVILLE -- Eighty-three year-old Betty Jennings received a phone call Wednesday saying she had won $50,000 in the Publisher's Clearing House (PCH) sweepstakes.
She was instructed to put on her finest outfit because the Prize Patrol was nearby in Madison County and they would be coming to her Berryville home to award the prize -- and she would be appearing on the evening news!
Her daughter Janita Altstatt said the spokesperson stayed on the line with her mother nearly 30 minutes, congratulating her, giving her a list of contact names and numbers -- and giving her precise instructions on how to send the required $199 delivery fee by Western Union.
That's right, all she had to do was wire the money and they would arrive with her big prize!
Altstatt said she and her mother enter the PCH sweepstakes "all the time" so the possibility of winning was not that far-fetched.
But it was the request for money that made her think it was a scam.
"I was on to them as soon as they asked for money," said Altstatt, who made several phone calls, including one to Publisher's Clearing House, where she spoke with their fraud division.
"They said when they give money away, there is never a delivery charge."
When the "sweepstakes" representative called a second time to see if the money had been wired, Altstatt said she answered the phone.
"I told them I knew it was a scam," she said, "and they hung up. I want other people to know this is going on so they don't fall victim. If they have doubts, they can call Publisher's Clearing House. The number is 1-800-645-9242."