Criminals are finding new ways to scam people. We spoke with one woman who said she received a phone call last week from Publishers Clearing House. The man on the phone said she was a winner, but that she needed to load money on a prepaid debit card first. She knew it was a scam, so now she is speaking out to warn others.
"It's a shame. It's a shame and honestly, me, I cannot see how anybody would fall for it," Tonya Scott says.
Last week, Scott got a phone call from a man who told her she had won $2.5 million dollars and a brand new Mercedes. She says the man told her he worked for Publishers Clearing House, and all she had to do to get her winnings was pay her taxes first. But Scott says she knew something wasn't right.
"For one, I haven't played the Publishers Clearing House, but when he said it, I just went with it because I wanted to see how far with it he would go," she says.
Scott says the caller told her to go to CVS, buy a GreenDot MoneyPak card, and put $199 on it. After she did that, the man told her to call him back with the GreenDot card number. But instead of doing that, Scott called the police.
"But he actually called me back that evening asking him why I hadn't contacted the company to give the GreenDot card, so I could keep the winnings. At that point, I let him know that I felt it was a sham," she says.
Scott gave us the scammer's number, so we gave them a call. As it turns out, I was also a Publishers Clearing House winner. And the man also asked me to put money on a GreenDot card.
I said, "I'm an investigative reporter and I want to know why you guys are scamming people."
The man said, "okay then, if you're not going to pay any money, get the **** off my phone."
I replied, "is that how the Publishers Clearing House is supposed to speak to people?"
He said, "we are talking to you. You call back this number I'm going to report you, so get off my ******* phone here. And **** you."
According to Publishers Clearing House, you never have to pay to claim a prize and winners are notified live and in person. In fact, the company is aware of this scam.
Now, Scott is just trying to get the message out to others, before they send money to the scammers.
"When someone promises you winnings, you don't pay out of your pocket for anything, at all," she says.
According to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office incident report, an 83-year-old Augusta woman fell for this scam. Over the course of about a month, the report says she gave $14,000 dollars to the scammers, but she never received her winnings.
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