Woman Warns of Sweepstakes Scam

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BEREA, Ohio — A Berea woman thought she hit the jackpot when she recently received a call saying she’d won $1 million in the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

But after following the instructions she was given — to pay thousands in taxes and other costs before receiving that prize — she realized she’d been duped.

“I started to get suspicious, but every time I started asking him questions he seemed to come back with a very logical answer,” said Jeanne Lyon.

According to a release from the Better Business Bureau, Lyon said she was instructed by the caller to obtain Green Dot MoneyPak cards totaling $1,500 to cover federal taxes and receive her prize.

She followed those instructions and gave the caller the serial numbers from the cards. The caller then told her an additional $4,000 was needed to cover other costs to deliver the $1 million.

When she seemed skeptical, the caller told her to go to the Publishers Clearing House website and look at the list of officers. He claimed to be the company’s senior vice president.

Lyon then purchased four additional MoneyPak cards for $1,000 each and gave the caller the serial numbers for them.

What happened next? The caller needed even more money, asking for $7,995.

“When I said I didn’t have the money, he told me to borrow it. At this point, I knew it was a scam,” Lyon told the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB said that Publishers Clearing House and Green Dot post warnings on their websites regarding similar frauds.

“Seniors and those who are cash-strapped are particularly vulnerable to telemarketing scams,” David Weiss, president of BBB Serving Greater Cleveland, said in a release. “We’ve seen an increase in the use of MoneyPak cards by criminals to get quick cash from unsuspecting victims.”