Sweepstake turns out to be a hoax

January 15, 2009 6:59:03 PM PST
We all dream of winning the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes, but when one Oakland woman was told she had won, she was suspicious and turned to 7 On Your Side for confirmation.

It looked so real, but then it just didn't quit add up.

Vivian Bowie received a letter claiming it was publisher's clearing house. It said that she had one second place, $1 million.

She received a check for nearly $6,000 to pay any expenses and was told to call her contact. Vivian hoped it was on the up and up, but she wanted me to check it out.

"I hope it is not a wild goose chase, but I know you, but I know you chaise wild gooses all the time," said Vivian Bowie from Oakland.

Vivian thought this might not be on the up and up, but her son Thomas, although concerned, thought it might all work out.

"He kept on Momma you aren't excited?" said Bowie.

"The majority of the scams want you to send them some money," said Thomas Bowie.

"Yes, this is the way they do it now. They send you a check to fake you out," said 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney.

"Okay," said Thomas Bowie.

Still I check things out further. The check came from utopia pharmacy; that's odd. And there was an IRS agent assigned to Vivian's case.

"The IRS doesn't assign IRS employees or agents to prize winners of any contest. We go into the field when something needs to be looked at or investigated. We certainly don't do what is claimed in that letter," said Jesse Weller from the IRS.

7 ON Your Side contacted Publisher's Clearing House and they said it is a scam. The company has seen the letter and the check and says don't fall for it.

They also added:

  • Winners are never notified through the mail.
  • There are never expenses to be paid.
  • Checks for less than the full amount are never sent.

    It is just a way for the rip off artists to get money that the consumer will eventually have to repay.

    Publisher's Clearing House says you'll know if you win, because the prize patrol always shows up with cameras, balloons and a giant check.