Publisher’s Clearing House scam circulates in Chilton County

Published 4:33 pm Thursday, February 5, 2015

A recent scam circulating in Chilton County has some residents on guard for any suspicious phone calls regarding a popular sweepstakes.

The Jemison Police Department posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that the department has received at least four reports in the last several days from residents saying they had received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House.

“The person calling tells the residents they have won a vehicle and that all they have do to is pay the taxes,” the JPD post said.

The caller also convinces the resident to go to the bank and send them the money for the taxes.

JPD said the caller appears to have a Caribbean accent and warned residents the caller is not legitimate.

On Wednesday afternoon, Thorsby resident Dorothy Brown received a phone call from a male individual alerting her she had won $900,000 and a Mercedes-Benz.

“I picked up the phone and the man asked me how I was doing. I told him I was doing good, and then he told me he knew I had entered a Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes many years ago,” Brown said. “I was suspicious of the call because even though I had entered a sweepstakes before, it was six years ago.”

Brown said the man told Brown she won prizes but that she needed to call back and speak with a manager named James Brown.

“The man I was speaking with then asked me what time I would be back at my house because they wanted to know what would be a good time to deliver my prizes,” Brown said. “I told him I don’t let anyone I don’t know in my house, and he said they wouldn’t be coming in my house. He told me they would bring two state troopers and an IRS agent to verify that the call was legitimate.”

Brown said she later called the number she had been given, including a confirmation code.

“When I called the number, it sounded like the same man I had talked to earlier,” Brown said. “He answered the phone with ‘International Prize Awards’ and said he was going to connect me with his manager. He then pressed the buttons on the telephone as if he was dialing someone and then came back on the line asking me when I was going to be home.”

Brown said she was uneasy about giving the caller more information and ended the telephone call without talking any further with the man.

Later in the day, Brown called the number of the individual who had called her, and the number had been disconnected.

“I typed in the number on the Internet, and it traced back to a Jamaican number,” Brown said.

Although Brown said she never gives out her personal information over the telephone, the call did appear at first to sound legitimate due to her previously entering the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes.

“There was a brief moment that I thought it could be a real, but with it being six years ago since I entered it, I thought it seemed strange,” Brown said. “Plus, you never see anyone win that sweepstakes. The man also told me not to tell anyone else about the call, which was very suspicious to me.”

Brown said she hopes her experience will help others who might receive the calls to be aware to not give out any information.

It was unclear what the individual calling was hoping to acquire since Brown said he never asked her to send money or give any personal information, but Brown said if it seems too good to be true, chances are it is.

If anyone receives a suspicious call, they are asked to report the call to the police.