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Scam to watch out for in March and April

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Publishers Clearing House (PCH) will be giving away seven thousand dollars a week for life (or the second-chance prize of a million dollars) to some lucky winner in just a few weeks, and scam artists are already trying to take people's money in advance of that prize award. If you entered the free sweepstakes yourself from the magazine and product seller, you could end up like Maria Burkhart, who WWLTV reported on March 28 had been contacted by phone by someone claiming to be the PCH Prize Patrol.

Burkhart was told the trio prize givers were driving around in her neighborhood, searching for her, as they wanted to award her half a million dollars. Fortunately, she knew enough about the company and its practices to know that wasn't how it works.

The Prize Patrol of Dave Sayer, Danielle Lam and Todd Sloane never call the winner in advance of the prize award date. And neither does anyone else at the company that has been doing this for decades. In fact, they want to capture the surprise on every winner's face when they learn they have come into a fortune. And advance notification would not allow their cameramen to do that.

In addition, when the prize patrol rolls up to your house with a superprize check, they have already learned where you live by using technological tools at their disposal. After all, you gave them your address when you entered, so it isn't like they don't know how to find you.

Louisiana resident Maria Burkhart did what the Publishers Clearing House officials want people to do when they get one of these fraud scam phone calls: she called the PCH company to report the 876 area code caller. And she used this number to do it, so you can use it too if someone tries to hoodwink you this way: 1-800-392-4290. If you want to email them about the fraudulent caller instead, write to abuse@pch.com

And if you want to know how you can spot a Publishers Clearing House Facebook scam, the PCH Blog has the answers for you. So when April 30 rolls around next month and the Prize Patrol team roll into your neighborhood to deliver the "big check" don't answer your telephone unless it is your neighbor, as that is one person they may call if you are not at home--so they can lure you back to receive your prize check.

The Atlanta Crime Examiner Radell Smith has a degree in criminal justice and behavioral forensics. And she is currently conducting her own research on the prize company that gives away millions for free. Check back soon to hear what she learned about them in her investigative journalism piece.

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