Phone scammers target local elderly residents
Aug 15, 2013 | 5365 views |  0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Some things are just too good to be true. Like, for instance, finding out that you’ve won more than half a billion dollars and a new car from Publisher’s Clearing House, even though you don’t remember entering.

According to Capt. Bill Kennedy of the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office, several residents of Talladega and Coosa counties, mostly retirees, have received phone calls from people claiming to represent the well-known sweepstakes. To date, he said, he does not know of anyone who has taken the bait, but people are advised to proceed with extreme caution.

Kennedy said the recent scam begins with a phone call from someone calling himself Mr. Foster, who informs the victim that they have won $555 million and a 2013 Dodge from Publisher’s Clearing House. After verifying the victim’s name, address and telephone number, they are given a second name and a telephone number (in Jamaica) to call. Long distance charges do apply.

Kennedy said the person in Jamaica will then ask the caller several yes or no questions, ending with whether or not there is a Walmart near by.

If there is, the caller is told to go to Walmart and load $950 onto a gift card to cover taxes and surcharges. If the caller says there is not a conveniently located Walmart, then the person in Jamaica will start asking for private banking information.

“I don’t know how many people they’ve contacted so far, but sooner or later someone is bound to fall for it,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also said that he had contacted the Publisher’s Clearing House fraud hotline regarding the current scam. “They said winners are only notified in person, by the Prize Patrol, or by certified or registered letter. They are never notified on the phone.”

There will also never be any fees or taxes to be paid up front, before the prizes are awarded.

Kennedy added that he could not fill out a report as law enforcement, but that the victims or potential victims would have to fill out the reports themselves.

If you have been contacted by someone falsely representing themselves as being from Publisher’s Clearing House, please contact the PCH fraud hotline at 1-800-392-4190. If you have been victimized, you will be allowed to file a complaint after filling out relevant paperwork to turn over to federal investigators.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com