3OYS alert: Young couple loses $1,800 in sweepstakes scam

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MORRISTOWN, Ariz -- Living paycheck to paycheck is a task many of us face. But how would your life change if a windfall came your way?

3 On Your Side's Gary Harper says a Valley man thought his life had certainly changed. "We just took these pictures ourselves on the railroad tracks right by my grandma's house."

Photos reflect the planned lifelong bond between Andre Wyche and his fiancée Kera England. “I proposed to her last year in Sedona, two days after my birthday," he says.

Things still appeared to be looking up for Andre, when he answered a recent phone call. "He's like, sir, don't hang up. This is Publishers Clearing House. You won $2.5 million dollars and a 2015 Mercedes S-class."

Andre and Kera thought they had just hit it big. The Morristown couple was sent official-looking documents that appeared to be legitimate, and they did appear to be from Publishers Clearing House, The Better Business Bureau, even the IRS, all indicating their winning was the real deal. All Andre had to do to collect the prize was wire money to cover taxes. "I added it up and it was $1,835."

Andre thought it was a small price to pay to collect millions, but after wiring in all that cash, the guy who said he was from Publishers Clearing House called again asking for more money. And that's when Andre and Kera became suspicious. So, they got online and came across a legitimate ad from Publishers Clearing House indicating this: "We never let the winner know in advance we’re on the way.”

At that moment the two of them knew they had been duped. Even when Andre called the scammer back he still tried to convince Andre it was all real. "I claimed that I had no money, I was getting married, and it's during the holiday season, and he's just like, oh my god, this is going to be great for you, it's going to change your life."

The winnings may be fake, but the raw emotions are real. "Just hurts and someone claiming to be a man of God, saying 'God has sent this to you, I am a messenger of God and I am bringing this gift to you.' Someone saying that, it just it really rips your heart out," says Andre.

Even while Andre and Kera were sitting down with 3 On Your Side, would you believe the scammer called again trying to squeeze more money out of them?  "Where is my package? Where is my 2.5 million dollars and Mercedes?" Andre wonders.

The ordeal is a life lesson that this couple wants to warn others about. "We just gave our whole bank account to them, basically. We just want them caught; we do. We don't even care about the money we sent. We don't want them doing it to anybody else. They need to be stopped."

The ironic thing is Andre did sign up for the Publishers Clearing House, so that's why this whole thing seemed so believable. Again, if you're ever asked to wire money, you're most likely getting involved in a scam.