The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recently issued a press release warning people that scam artists are illegally using Publishers Clearing House name to steal your money. In Minnesota as well as other states, people are receiving notices of sweepstakes winning on phony Publishers Clearing House letterhead along with a bogus check for several thousand dollars.
All of these letters have a common theme. The envelopes contain no return address but have a Canadian postal stamp. The letter says that the recipient must keep winnings confidential, which should be the first indication that this is a scam. A check is enclosed to cover taxes, fees or other costs required to redeem prizes but the check is drawn on an account that doesn’t match the name of the sweepstakes. Of course, the letter says that you should immediately call an agent to redeem your winnings before you deposit the check as well as sending money via wire transfer after depositing the check. This should be another red flag warning that this is not legitimate.
In these tough economic times, many people may fall for this scam thinking that they are getting free money. However, it turns out that these criminals are the only ones making money and not you. Fraudulent lottery and sweepstakes scams account for at least $30 million in losses each year in Minnesota. Many of the scams target the elderly.
If you receive one of these letters, call the Minnesota AGED (Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division) at their toll-free number 866-347-0911 or you can submit the information at http://www.mnscams.org/; or forward suspect emails to firstname.lastname@example.org . Or you can forward fraudulent mailings to Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, 444 Cedar St., Ste. 133, Saint Paul, MN 55101.