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Clearing House Scam targets local

By Staff | Mar 22, 2013

Shepherdstown resident Anna Rose Anderson knew something didn’t feel quite right.

When David Miller from Naples, Fla., called to tell she’d won a Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes award for $850,00, Anderson was excited but skeptical.

“I felt like something was crooked,” she said.

The day she was first contacted was March 13, 2013.

“I’ll remember that day as long as I live,” she said.

After being contacted originally, Anderson said her son observed what a appeared to be a limousine enter the family’s driveway and then leave, while Anna was away from her home on Thursday, March 14.

After eight reported attempts to contact Anna that day, Miller finally reached her that evening and made plans to return on Friday March 15 to award her the alleged prize.

Anderson waited at her home with family on Friday afternoon, while retelling her account of the week’s event as her granddaughter Katie scoured the internet, looking possible information about Publisher’s Clearing House award protocol.

After more than an hour of waiting, Anderson said she felt her suspicions were confirmed when no limo arrived at her door.

The 88-year-old retired teacher said she was first put on guard about the likely scam when she was asked to overnight a cashier’s check in the amount of $2,450 as part of a “tax” on the prize she was being promised.

A Clearing House subscriber, Anderson said she has entered the well known sweepstakes before, though has never been contacted about a prize.

According to the Publisher’s Clearing House web site’s “Consumer Information” section, under “Fraud Protection,” the site warns clearinghouse sweepstakes participants about experiences similar to Anderson’s.

“At PCH (Publishers Clearing House) the winning is always free and you never have to pay to claim a prize award.” The website says.

“If you are ever contacted by someone claiming to represent PCH, or claiming to be one of our employees, and asked to send or wire money (for any reason whatsoever, including taxes); or send a pre-paid gift card or Green Dot Moneypak card in order to claim a sweepstakes prize Don’t!” the site explains.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department was made aware of Anderson’s incident, but said no official report was taken by their office.

Sergeant R.L. Fletcher said the Sheriff’s Department has been contacted in the past with similar complaints, though no apparent trend has been observed recently.

“It hasn’t been a widespread problem we’ve heard of,” he said.

Anderson said she believes the scammers likely attempt to target single elderly adults.

“I’m sure they hit on seniors,” she said.

For her part, Anderson said she was ready to move past the whole ordeal, describing it as a disturbance to an otherwise leisurely and peaceful life, that includes frequent community and church activities, like reading to local elementary school children and toddlers every week.

“It sent me in loops,” she said about the events.

According to the Publishers Clearing House website, consumers who are contacted by someone using their name or logo, are instructed to contact them directly by calling 1-800-645-9242.

Consumers are also advised to contact their local consumer protection officials or the National Fraud Center at www.fraud.org.