Safe From Scams: Sweepstakes scams that target the elderly

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Elderly Americans are losing millions of dollars each year in fake lottery or sweepstakes scams.

"It was Publisher's Clearing House which I enter, never win, but I do enter," potential victim June Henne said.

So, when she received a letter saying she won the grand prize she thought, maybe, her luck had changed.

"Excitement," Henne said. "I'd won $2.5 million. Then, I remembered that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Why wasn't she getting the surprise knock at the door or big check? And, why was an almost $8,000 check inside?

The letter said that the check was for insurance and legal fees, and I thought why now do I need insurance and legal fees to win something?

Publisher's Clearing House wasn't written on the check anywhere so June decided to call the bank on the check.

The young lady that I spoke with asked me, "Is that Publishers Clearing House?" and I said "yes" and she said "Honey, it's a fraud. It's a scam."

"June was sharp," US Postal Inspector Pamela Durkee said. "I haven't been out on a lot of interviews whereby an older American or senior saw the red flags up front."

Postal inspectors say conmen are using the Publisher's Clearing House name because many Americans do take part in the legitimate sweepstakes.

The letter had some Publisher's Clearing House logo on it so it looked very authentic.

Conmen wanted June to deposit the check and send them the so-called taxes and fees immediately.

What they find out about 10 days later is that they are going to receive a call from their bank notifying them that check did not clear and in fact, the check is a bad check.

Don't be gullible, no legitimate lottery or sweepstakes would ever ask for money upfront before winning a prize.
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