SPRINGFIELD, Mo- Shelly Hoskins, 56-years-old, thought she would take a chance and sign up for the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, all in hopes of winning one million dollars.
Shelly says she and her mother, who is 84-years-old, are not very tech-savvy. So, they went to one of the Springfield-Greene County Library branches to use a computer to enter the sweepstakes.
According to Shelly, she got a text Wednesday morning saying she had won.
“I woke up and had gotten these texts. They said they were Publishers Clearing House (PCH) and that the contest that I had entered, my name was drawn out of ten people, and each one of us ten people was supposed to get one million dollars,” says Shelly.
She then said the person who texted her noted that an agent from the FBI would contact her. A few hours later, a person claiming to be with the FBI texted Shelly to “help her get her money”.
“Well, when it came down to it, to get the money through FedEx, you would have to pay what was due on the taxes and shipping,” says Shelly.
After acquiring the tracking number the scammer was using, she called FedEx and gave them the number. They said it was a real tracking number that was used in November of 2019. It was then that Shelly realized she was getting scammed. Shelly got ahold of the actual FBI to tell them of the scam and that someone was claiming to be an agent of theirs.
Shelly then texted the scammer back with this information from FedEx, and the actual FBI and the scammer got flustered and then stopped texting her.
Ozarks First reached out to PCH about how the process goes for entering sweepstakes with the company. Christopher Irving, Vice President, Consumer & Legal Affairs at PCH, said the following:
When an entrant is selected as a major prize winner, we do not provide an advance announcement of the big win. The commercials you see on TV are as they happen with the well known Prize Patrol showing up unannounced with balloons, flowers, champagne and, of course, the big check. Winners of smaller prizes may be contacted by certified mail, but no winner is ever asked to send money to collect a prize. Since 1967 we have awarded over $500 million in major prizes, and our next big millionaire winner will be announced and awarded on June 30th.
Irving provided a link for contestants to recognize the difference between legitimate sweepstakes and other types of offers that may be scams.
“PCH takes these matters, where our good name and reputation is being used, very seriously, and it causes us great concern for the consumers who are victimized. We have in place a comprehensive program of education and enforcement to combat these scammers,” says Christopher.
According to the PCH statement, they will work closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement to help identify the scammers and share reports of all reported imposter scams directly with the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Database.