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2/28/2013 2:35:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Phone scam claiming big money surfaces

Jennifer Marshall Best
Herald Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT - If someone from Jamaica calls you claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House, it's a scam, an elderly Bridgeport woman has recently discovered.

Sally Searcy has been the victim of numerous phone calls from Kingston, Jamaica and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from live people telling her she has won upwards of $4.5 million dollars from the famous American sweepstakes company. Other calls claimed she had won gift cards to Walmart and Target, but she needed to send them $3.98 to get the cards.

"I called just about everybody that I could possibly think of to get them off of my phone and out of my hair," said Searcy, 70. Those calls included reports to the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, Publishers Clearing House itself, RiverCom 911 and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

She was told by Publishers Clearing House that they do not have any offices or employees outside the United States, and they don't offer contests as high as $4.5 million.

The company has covered the concern of scams on its official website,

"If you are contacted by someone who says you won a prize, but in order to claim it you must drive somewhere, pay a shipping, handling, or delivery fee, prepay taxes, pay a deposit, give a credit card number, call a 900 number, or purchase a product with a 'discount voucher', it is NOT affiliated in any way with the real Publishers Clearing House," the website reads. "Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a fraudulent contact using the name of Publishers Clearing House, may contact us at our toll-free number 1-800-392-4190."

Searcy tried a few ways to stop the calls, including scolding the caller and hanging up on them, only to have them call back moments later. What finally worked, she said, was calling her phone company. They put her number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

"The old people, what they need to do is put a no-call block on their phone so these crazy people can't get through to them," Searcy said.

The numbers that popped up on her caller ID were (954) 278-3394 and (876) 884-1718, along with a couple of unusual ones - V21913441900034 and V22212412000034.

Other scams that made the rounds last year included calls claiming to be from Wells Fargo or Sterling Savings Bank, and a man posing as a Brewster woman's grandson asking for money. In both cases, police advise hanging up and dialing your bank or family member directly to ensure nothing is wrong.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office can be reached at (509) 884-0941, and the non-emergency line for the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office is (509) 422-7200. The Federal Trade Commission's number is 1-877-382-4357.

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: Corrie

Definitely a scam!! I hate that I almost fell for that scheme! Those scheming faudsters called me up and said I got picked in a drawing and will be getting $2 million. And since I joined every drawing and sweepstakes I knew off, I bought the story. The caller had me prepare $450 for processing fees and taxes and said he'd call back in a few minutes. As I was sitting, waiting for the call, I managed to surf the internet and looked up the sweepstakes that I supposedly joined. But instead of seeing my name as the grand winner, i pulled up several complaints relating the phone number to this Lottery scam at Apparently, this scammer has called several others, too, and tried to scam them.

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