Police chief warns about possible scam
SPRUCE PINE – Spruce Pine Police Chief Billy Summerlin has issued an alert after a Spruce Pine resident was the victim of a scam.
The scam was perpetrated through the mail in the form of a Publishers Clearing House notice. The letter informed the resident she would be eligible for a prize of $7,000 a week for life if she paid $1,200.
“What she received in the mail looked totally legitimate,” Summerlin said. “She had no reason to believe it was a scam, but it turned out that’s exactly what it was.”
The letter was printed on Publishers Clearing House letterhead and used official markings and logos. The woman wired $1,200 from Spruce Pine Walmart to a Walmart in Thomasville, Georgia.
Sandra Grauschopf, of scam watchdog website thebalance.com, said in her article "How to Recognize Publishers Clearing House Scams" (https://www.thebalanceeveryday.com/how-to-recognize-publishers-clearing-house-scams-896723) that sweepstakes scammers are experts at convincing people they have won a prize and they need to pay money to receive it.
“One of their more successful tactics is to disguise themselves as legitimate companies that really do offer huge prizes,” she said in the article. “Because people are familiar with the company that scammers are mimicking, they are more likely to falsely believe they have really won a prize.”
Grauschopf added that Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes are legitimate, but there are many scams that use the PCH name.
There are ways to spot a PCH scam, according to the article.
“PCH doesn’t email or call its big winners,” she said. “If you receive an email, a telephone call or a bulk mail letter saying that you’ve won a big prize from PCH, it’s a scam.”
All PCH prizes of $500 or greater are awarded by either certified or express letter or in person by the Prize Patrol, according to the PCH website.
“You never have to pay to receive a legitimate PCH win,” Grauschopf said in the article. “Scammers extort money from you in exchange for a promise of a prize that never materializes. The truth is you never have to pay to receive a sweepstakes prize from Publishers Clearing House or any other company.”
Summerlin urges people who receive something in the mail from PCH to not send money.