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State Police warn of lottery and Publisher’s Clearing House scams

Elk County – State Police are warning that, although more people are aware of the signs of a scam nowadays, that lottery scams are still making the rounds in our area. Remember… if it sounds too good to be true, it probably it. If you don’t remember signing up for a contest or lottery drawing, then it’s likely a scam.

The Pennsylvania State Police would like to remind citizens that con artists continue to conduct their illegal scam activities in our area. Scams can be easily committed on the unsuspecting person, and if not careful, anyone can become a victim.

There are many variations, but most scams involve a ruse where you receive a phone call or a check in the mail from a lottery, a corporation or a foreign country. Other schemes originate from use of online selling or auction sites. In most cases, the victim is instructed to cash a check, keep a small portion of the money, and send the remaining amount to an address provided. In some of these crimes, sending the money will ensure receipt of an even larger cash prize. The crime within this scam is the fact that the money or prize is non-existent and/or the initial check is fraudulent. If the victim sends the amount required by personal check to the address given, the con artist not only cashes the check and steals the money, but they also now have the victims’ bank account number.

Locally, law enforcement has recently received complaints from residents regarding the receipt of prize checks purportedly from Publisher’s Clearing House. To expedite processing for a “bigger” monetary prize, victims are instructed by an enclosed letter to cash the check and wire almost $3000.00 to the address provided via Western Union Money Transfer. As mentioned previously, the check initially received is fraudulent, there is no other prize and the money wired by the victim is stolen by the scam artist.

If you receive a prize announcement package and wish to determine if it is legitimate, contact the prize company by some other means than those supplied in the enclosed letter. Otherwise, dispose of the materials in your trash. If however, you believe that you are a victim of a scam, save all the information you have regarding the issue, and promptly contact the police department that serves your area.

The primary prevention tip to remember to avoid becoming a victim of any scam is, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”