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The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office is warning people to beware of a scam involving fake checks that appear to come from Publisher’s Clearing House. According to Major Ricky Gardner, these checks are coming to Bedford County. The office recently received a call from a county resident, who was the subject of this scam.
A press release sent out by the Sheriff’s Office states that people who receive the notice in the mail see an attachment, claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House with a cashiers check, dated 12/10/2010, in the amount of $3,600,000. The notices, which are on yellow paper, advise the winner to call an 866 toll free number. When the number is called the person answering advises the caller that they need to send $250 for insurance and another $300 for processing to claim their prize. The person then asks the caller for their personal information such as Social Security Number, checking account number and credit card numbers.
Gardner said that this scam has been going around for some time as Publisher’s Clearing House has a warning about it on its Web site. Go to www.pch.com, click on “Info Center” at the top of the page, then click on “Consumer Alerts.” The notice on the Web site is dated August 2008.
According to the Sheriff’s Office news release, Publisher’s Clearing House states that its representatives never ask for personal information over the telephone. The Sheriff’s Office advises consumers that if anyone asks for your personal information or for the person to send money over the phone, they should “hang-up.”
Scams can be devastating. Gardner said that investigators worked on a scam, earlier this year, in which a county man lost his life savings. The chances of recovering money lost in these scams is slim as the scammer could be anywhere. Gardner said that the Sheriff’s Office passes on information that investigators obtain to the FBI and Postal Service, but there are so many scams that law enforcement is overwhelmed.
The scam may originate off-shore. Gardner noted that, in the case of the scam letter that came here, the word “check” is spelled “cheque,” indicating a foreign origin.
The best course of action is to avoid becoming a victim. The Sheriff’s Office advises people to never give out any personal information over the telephone or by mail and/or send money to anybody to claim a prize. If you are called by somebody asking for personal information, Gardner advises people not to worry about being rude and just hang up on the caller.