Victim of Sweepstakes Scam Becomes Middle Man for Con Artists - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Victim of Sweepstakes Scam Becomes Middle Man for Con Artists


What a way to celebrate the new year: you receive a letter announcing you've won a major sweepstakes. But there's a new warning about a fraudsters using the popular "Publishers Clearing House" name to rip off consumers.

One victim of this scam is speaking out.  He says he was delighted when he got a letter telling him he won.

"It said it was from Publisher's Clearing House and it showed a sample check for $1.5 million dollars," said the victim, who did not want to be identified.

This victim is still embarrassed that he was lured into a scheme that cost him hundreds of dollars.

When he received the letter, he contacted the name and number.  He was told he needed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes to collect the winnings.

The victim said he didn't have the money, but that didn't stop the fraudsters from reeling him in.

"They have a solution for him. What they describe as 'prior winners' can 'sponsor' him and provide payment to meet the necessary payments to get the prize," said Larry Dodson, U.S. Postal Inspector (Retired).

The victim unknowingly turned into a middle man for con artists.

He was receiving checks from other people who believed they are paying off taxes on their jackpot.  He cashed the checks, and spent hundreds of dollars sending packages overnight to Canada.

After re-shipping almost $119,000, the victim got a call from Canadian police who intercepted one of the packages.

"'Why are you sending this to Canada?'

I said, 'to pay taxes to win my Publisher's Clearing House winnings.'"

"They said, 'we don't collect taxes unless you are a Canadian citizen.' That kind of threw me. Then all of a sudden when I tried to call these people, the numbers were all disconnected. That's when I knew I had been taken," said the victim.

In the end, the victim said he learned a valuable lesson.

"I should have called Publishers Clearing House to see if this exists. Had I done that, none of this would have probably happened. I have no one to blame but myself."

Publisher's Clearing House even warns about these type of scams on its website:

The company reminds people no legitimate contest will ever ask for fees or taxes to be paid up front. Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a fraudulent contact using the name of Publishers Clearing House is urged to call 1-800-392-4190. You can also forward suspicious emails to

You can report these fraudulent letters to help postal inspectors track down who could be responsible by visiting this website: or by calling 877-876-2455.





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