Your Better Business Bureau has received reports of letters showing up in northwest Florida mailboxes that are supposedly from Publishers Clearing House, claiming that they have won a grand prize drawing of $1 million. Although the letters and checks look official, the recipient is the target of a scam making a sudden resurgence nationwide.
“Not surprisingly, the revival of this scam comes on the heels of the real Publishers Clearing House awarding a New Jersey woman $5,000 a week for the rest of her life,” said Norman Wright, president and CEO of your BBB serving northwest Florida. “Scammers often take advantage of events in the news, such as Publishers Clearing House giving out a prize, knowing it’ll be on top of people’s minds.”
Victims receive a letter supposedly from Publishers Clearing House claiming that they’ve won $1 million as the second place winner of a drawing sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine. The letter is accompanied by a check for as much as $5,900 with instructions to call a Publishers Clearing House representative. Victims are told that they must cash the check and then wire approximately $4,000 to Publishers Clearing House in order to receive their prize. However, the check is fraudulent and money wired to the scammers cannot be recovered.
Since early March, reports of the Publishers Clearing House scam have come in from 20 states including Florida. Some have also reported receiving phone calls from scammers pretending to be with Publishers Clearing House.
While this scam predominantly takes advantage of individuals, business owners also need to be aware that their company’s name could potentially be used by fraudsters. The fraudulent checks sent to the supposed prize winners with the letter are copies of checks from legitimate businesses which have been stolen by the scammers. Businesses located in Alabama, California, Kansas, Washington and West Virginia have discovered that their checks—which included their name, address and even account number—were reproduced as part of the scam.