3 On Your Side

Don't be fooled by fake sweepstakes

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Publishers Clearing House is one of the most recognizable sweepstakes around. Scammers not only know that, but they use it to their advantage to try and dupe you.

"This is real, this is live on Facebook, we have all these camera here, you just won a million dollars from Publishers Clearing House! “

Winning millions of dollars through Publishers Clearing House can certainly be an exciting moment.

And for Nancy and her husband Hank, being told they had just won the sweepstakes was certainly music to their ears.

All the excitement happened when Nancy says she recently received a phone call.

"This gentleman said that he was from Publishers Clearing House, the winners department, and that I had won $5.4 million in the clearing house prize patrol or whatever it was."

The thought of winning millions certainly got her attention.

But not for long because Nancy says she's heard of the scam with the help of other consumers who recorded the fake winning calls and posted them on social media.

"You are the lucky winner from the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes."

Nancy was told she needed to pay $500 with a credit card in order to collect her winnings and get this -- she was instructed not to tell anyone about the call, including her husband Hank.

"It didn't sound real."

Hank checked their caller ID and noticed it had a Jamaica area code. Keep in mind Publishers Clearing House does not call or ask you to send money to collect a prize.

Legitimate winners are notified in person through their Prize Patrol and the chances of winning are not good.

In fact, the official rules say the odds of winning $1 million a year for the rest of your life are one in 1.3 billion.

"I'm very happy that I didn't fall for it and I hope others don't either."

Just remember, if anyone calls you asking you to pay for a prize it's a scam. Get as much information as you can and then file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, that's the only way these guys can get caught.

Click here for more information about the Publishers Clearing House Scam and you can also read information about the scam below from the Federal trade Commission.

July 21, 2017

by Lisa Lake

Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Most of us have seen those ads with Publishers Clearing House knocking on someone’s door with balloons and a big check for millions. It’s a life-changing moment marked by joyous tears. Dreams are about to come true.

But the FTC wants to be sure your tears are not sad ones and the dream doesn’t wind up being a nightmare, because scammers are pretending to be Publishers Clearing House and tricking people into sending them money.

Publishers Clearing House and the FTC have both gotten many reports about scammers using the Publishers Clearing House name to deceive people. Scammers call, claiming you’ve won the sweepstakes – but, to collect your prize, you need to send money to pay for so-called fees and taxes.

Paying to collect a prize is a scam. Every time. And scammers like to ask you to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or by getting a prepaid card or gift card. Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to trace that money – and you’ll almost never get your money back.

If you think you’ve won a prize, here are a few things to know:

Publishers Clearing House will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize. In fact, no legit prize promoter will ever charge you to win.

If anyone calls asking you to pay for a prize, hang up and report it to the FTC.

Never send money to collect a prize. It’s a scam.

And here’s another insider tip: Publisher's Clearing House doesn’t call ahead to say you’ve won.

Did you send money to a prize scammer, or know someone who has? Report the loss immediately to the company you paid through (Western Union, MoneyGram, the prepaid or gift card company). And then tell the FTC. And, if you wired money to a scammer via Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you might be eligible for a refund.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Hide bio

Contact 3 On Your Side