Billy Cooper is familiar with Publishers Clearing House. But said he has was not aware of scams surrounding the sweepstakes contest.
In December, he received two letters from the real Publishers Clearing House — he’s seen letters like these before. But weeks earlier, he had received another letter also with the company’s logo on it.
The letter sent in November claimed Mr. Cooper was a potential winner.
Billy said the letter brought some happy thoughts. He believed it to be legitimate, it has the Executive Vice President’s name at the bottom and at the top the Publishers Clearing House logo, which he’s familiar with.
So, he confirmed his address, added his phone number, and responded to the letter. An odd item in the letter was this yellow note — warning of severe consequences of “losing a fortune” if he didn’t respond.
There was even a warning in the phony letter that said “inaction would led to severe consequences.” Within a few weeks of getting the letter, Mr. Cooper got a call which he saved on his phone.
The voicemail message said, “Hi, Mr.Cooper. You are speaking here with Mr. Peter Mason. I am the general manager for the Publishers Clearing House. Now this is a certified check containing $2.5 million, and a brand spanking new automobile.”
But a check wasn’t ever sent, neither was a new car.
Here is the catch – Publishers Clearing House is a popular target of this type of scam because people are familiar with the company and want to believe they have really won a prize.
The real letter does come from the Executive Vice President, with the tear-off sheet at the bottom right that is actually a coupon that you affix to the entry confirmation and order form.
There is no warning of severe consequences. Unlike the phony letter where you see “consequences” in bold print.
Publishers Clearing House warns that logos can be copied, names of legitimate Publishers Clearing House employees can be found on Google, and signatures can be forged.
Publishers Clearing House says it does not notify winners this way. Mr. Cooper said he called WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare because of the unusual letter and the phone call that followed his initial response to that letter.
Says Billy, “Listen to the presentation and see whether it sounds professional and sounds real or whether it’s just someone that reading off of a note. He wasn’t professional in his presentation to me.”