Local elderly woman says scammers used famous sweepstakes company to try and get money

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A warning about a scheme that aims to take your money using a famous sweepstakes company, Publisher's Clearing House.

An elderly woman came forward and said she doesn't want anyone to fall for it.

Many people dream of getting a visit from Publisher's Clearing House prize patrol saying they have won a big sum of money. However, the sweepstakes company said there are scammers illegally using their name in an attempt to steal money.

"We'll pay 99 percent of the taxes and you send us $905 for the shipping for the car...and that's what did it," said Joyce Addison, who said someone called her claiming to be from Publisher's Clearing House Thursday. They said she had won the second place prize, a red Lincoln Navigator.

Addison believes she was targeted because of her age. She's currently dealing with congestive heart failure and lost two kidneys, so she requires dialysis. At first she was excited, then she realized the call was too good to be true.

"They were trying to con me out of money. They called me back and wanted to know if I called anybody and I said yeah I did. Publisher's Clearing House. Click," laughed Addison.  "Old doesn't make you stupid. Old just makes you wiser."

Publisher's Clearing House has a few tips and warning signs to protect against fraud.

Tip 1: Beware of Fake Check Scams

If you receive a check claiming to be for a legitimate sweepstakes prize and are asked to cash it and wire or send a portion back — STOP — you are the victim of a fraudulent contact. The check is not real! Consumers should always remember that at Publishers Clearing House no payment or fee is ever necessary to enter or claim a prize.

Tip 2: Be Suspicious of Callers Claiming You’ve Won – But Ask You to Send Money

If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming you have won a sweepstakes prize and are asked to send money — STOP — you have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes company. At Publishers Clearing House we do not notify our contest winners by phone.

Tip 3: Be Wary of E-mails Claiming You’ve Won – and Asking You to Send Money

If you receive an e-mail notifying you that you have won a major sweepstakes prize, but are asked to provide personal financial information, or send money — STOP -– you have most likely been contacted by a fraudulent sweepstakes scam operator. At Publishers Clearing House we do not notify major prize winners by e-mail.

Anyone who believes they have been contacted by a scammer should file a complaint with the National Fraud Information Center.