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Police warn about sweepstakes scam as PCH exec touts upcoming holiday drawing

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Publishers Clearing House appears to be about to make an exciting new sweepstakes winner notification in time for the holidays based on a recent Facebook post by the company's executive leader Deborah Holland. And it is coming at a time when police say a Lexington, Kentucky man recently turned into an unknowing middle man for some sweepstake con men, according to WKYT News.

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PCH's Executive Vice President Deborah Holland posted on Dec. 19 that "Lucky's looking for a home for the holidays...how about yours?" The photo with the Facebook caption shows the famous winning prize patrol card with a santa's hat perched on the corner. So the impression is that the famous sweepstakes company located in Port Washington, NY is about to award some lucky winner some holiday money. Yippee! Right?

The only holidays on the horizon right now are Christmas and New Years. But that's about all that is known regarding what might be in the works this December or New Year's Day for Publishers Clearing House fans right now. The company's next big known super prize drawing award is not scheduled until Feb. 28, 2014, but that isn't a holiday. So something else is coming down the chimney soon, obviously.

On a different note, but something PCH is always warning their fans about on Facebook and their blog, is an alert about a scam that cost a number of people approximately $119,000 total as a group. The con men used a ruse all too commonly played on unsuspecting sweepstakes hopefuls: They mailed the man a letter telling him that he had won a prize from PCH and that he had to pay taxes in order to collect it.

You NEVER have to pay to claim a PCH prize!" PCH's Dave Sayer says. And he's the founder of the PCH Prize Patrol, so he ought to know.

The man in Kentucky didn't realize that, but he didn't have any money to pay up front for his coveted prize either. So he told the con men that when he called them back at the number they listed in their written correspondence. And that's when they devised a way he could get that money--which was illegal, although he didn't realize it. And he proceeded to do as they instructed, contacting the other "winners" the men said had won, and who would also have to pay their taxes up front first, in order to collect their money.

The Kentucky man was led to believe that by acting as a middle man for the fake PCH company he would be able to collect his winnings too. And so he did it, never realizing until Canadian police contacted him, that he had violated the law and been duped by criminals into helping them swindle money from others.

I should have called Publishers Clearing House to see if this exists. Had I done that, none of this would have probably happened. I have no one to blame but myself," the victim said.

This holiday season, as PCH appears to be poised to award yet another sweepstakes prize--and as two lottery winners have won millions of dollars--educate yourself about what does and does not happen when you hit it big in these ways. And let PCH's Dave Sayer help with that by following the tips below, which he recommends:

PCH Prize Patrol Winner Facebook Safety Tips:

  • The only way that you would know that you have won a superprize with PCH is if the prize patrol team shows up at your door at home or work. And that team consists of Dave Sayer, Danielle Lam and Todd Sloane. Their photos are on the official PCH Facebook site, so go take a look. You will want to recognize them if they arrive.
  • PCH never contacts winners by phone or Facebook. And if they send out mail about a prize, it is never about the superprize, and it will be obvious by the contents of the letter that it is from them, not impersonators. And if you have any doubt, call the PCH phone number from their official website or blog to verify. They expect you to do that.
  • You never need to pay in order to collect a Publishers Clearing House prize. And that is especially true for those million dollar checks they give out, as they come with one for you rather than asking you to pay them first. Just ask Natalie Bostelman, a 2008 superprize million dollar winner who went on to become a PCH Goodwill Ambassador.

When the Prize Patrol visited me, they handed ME a check," Natalie said.

Still unsure about the facts regarding a prize from Publishers Clearing House? Here's the company's legitimate contact information: 1-800-392-4190, Publishers Clearing House, 101 Winners Circle, Port Washington, NY 11050.

Atlanta Top News Examiner Radell Smith has a degree in criminal justice and behavioral forensics. And she urges everyone to be safe this Christmas and New Years holidays. And to watch out for misleading advertisements and con artists.

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