By Mallory Ragon
A scam representing itself as a Publishers Clearing House (PCH) sweepstakes has found its way to Lee’s Summit. On July 28 resident Dan Hastings received a call on his cell phone from a man who identified himself as someone with PCH told Hastings he had won $800,000 and a brand new Mercedes. All he needed to do to claim his prize was to buy a Green Dot MoneyPak card (a prepaid debit card) from a local convenience store or pharmacy, load $300 on it using only cash, and then read off the serial number on the back. Once PCH had confirmed the funds, they would deliver his keys and the check-and a gas card to reimburse him for the MoneyPak payment.
Hastings recognized it as seeming not-quite-right and reported the incident to the Lee’s Summit Police Department (LSPD), who has seen a few different variations of these scams involving either a sweepstakes prize or requesting a Green Dot MoneyPak card. This type of scam has been known to PCH for a couple of years and they ask consumers to “be alert, be vigilant, and be aware of the signs.”
LSPD also has several recommendations to help residents avoid these incidences:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
- If you win a prize in a legal sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay money to claim it.
- If the caller wants you to pay with a Green Dot MoneyPak card, it’s a scam.
- Scammers can be very persistent. Don’t let them rattle you! Just hang up the phone.
- If you lose money to a scammer, report it to the police department.
- If you didn’t lose money but would like law enforcement to be aware of the scam, report it to the attorney general.
You can contact LSPD through their administrative line at (816) 969-1700 to report scam activity. To file a consumer complaint with the Missouri attorney general’s office, you can call the consumer protection hotline at 1-800-392-8222. If you suspect that you have been contacted fraudulently by someone using the PCH name, you can call Publishers Clearing House at 1-800-392-4190.