By Ashley M. Casey
Although it hasn’t deterred her from entering any more contests, Fulton resident Fanny Knapp wants to let community members know about a Publishers Clearing House-style scam she discovered last week.
Knapp, 85, has entered several of the real Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes a few times a year for the last two or three years, and has purchased a few of their magazines and other items, but she has never won anything.
Last Thursday evening, however, she received a call informing her that she had won a cash prize.
The caller, who claimed to be an employee for Publishers Clearing House, told Knapp to call (702) 516-5521 and ask for “Michael Best.” Knapp called twice, but the line was busy both times.
Finally, “Michael Best” called back and asked Knapp to send in a $50 gift card to claim her prize. She became suspicious.
“He asked me how far I live from Walmart, and I thought, ‘That’s a strange question,’ because Publishers Clearing House already knows where I live,” said Knapp.
She said she receives six to eight letters a month from Publishers Clearing House. In addition to sales offers, the letters include “sweepstakes facts” that outline the rules of the sweepstakes and how winners will be contacted.
“It says in the letter … the winners will be contacted by mail,” Knapp said.
She realized it was a scam and took note of the phone number. Knapp called The Post-Standard in Syracuse to share her story and was also interviewed by WSYR. She said she alerted the media so that “somebody else might not fall for it.”
Publishers Clearing House’s website has a page called “Fraud Protection” that explains how to spot a possible scam. It says winners of major prizes — that is, $1,000 or more — are only notified in person.
Winners of smaller prizes are contacted by mail. Publishers Clearing House does not call winners beforehand. The site also warns people not to send money to claim a prize, as Knapp was asked to do.
Despite her encounter with a scammer, Knapp said she still plans on entering for Publishers Clearing House’s sweepstakes prizes, though she won’t be spending money on the company any time soon.
“Earlier this month, you got a prize if you ordered something, so I ordered some shears,” she said. “I won’t order anything else this year.”
For more information on how to avoid a sweepstakes scam, visit info.pch.com/consumer-information/fraud-protection.