Yavapai County authorities report that a Publisher’s Clearing House scam has stolen $3,500 from a 77-year-old Chino Valley resident.
On June 15, the elderly man reported that he’d received a call from a number with an 876 area code. The suspect said that the man had won a Publisher’s Clearing House contest, and needed to send $3,500 for “processing fees” in order to claim his winnings. The man went to the bank, got a cashier’s check, and sent the money to the Wisconsin address he’d been given before realizing that he’d been scammed.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office is now reminding Arizonians that any number beginning with an 876 area code will probably involve a scam.
This sort of scam is quite common. Sweepstakes have to be free to enter. Sometimes, contests may ask participants to submit a photo, video or essay about the brand, products or services, which can then be used as advertising, but they will never ask participants to send in money. This is the most obvious sign of a scam.
There are other signs to watch out for, too. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “winners” need to be wary of mail that was sent at bulk rate, and phone calls that comes out of the blue. The postmark on the envelope or postcard will reveal if it was mailed by bulk rate, which indicates that scores of other “winning” notifications were mailed out. Getting an unexpected phone call — despite not having entered any contents, or having registered with the Do Not Call Registry — is another indicator that you may be dealing with scammers.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has also released “The Little Book of Scams,” which is free to download or read online. It advises possible winners to get independent advice if an offer involves money, personal info, time, or commitment, and not to take any offers or deals right away, amongst many other helpful pieces of advice for anyone who may be the target of a scam.