A scam that claims a large reward has popped up in Eastern North Carolina.
The scam happens by phone. After promising a large sum of money, usually several hundred thousand dollars to a couple of million dollars, fraudsters say a payment of somewhere around $1,000 is owed to pay lawyers fees, or for check insurance. The fraudsters promise Publishers Clearing House employees are on the way to the victim's home and ask for personal information. The scams can lead to identity theft.
Representatives with Publishers Clearing House said the organization never calls contestants on the phone. All prizes from PCH are free. Employees from PCH will never ask for money.
In Pamlico County, at least two instances of fraud have been reported to the Pamlico County Sheriff's Office. One of the two cases was the sheriff himself.
Sheriff Bill Sawyer was working on May 26th, when a man who called him Peter Rogers called his work cell phone. The man claimed to be with Publishers Clearing House and said Sawyer had won $350,000. The caller asked Sawyer to call an office manager who then asked Sawyer for personal information about his address and asked him to pay a fee.
"They said they would pay insurance and lawyers fees and they would arrive with federal marshals which they wouldn't do. That wouldn't happen," sheriff Sawyer said.
Sheriff Sawyer had just recently dealt with a case in which a woman was scammed out of $1,000 under the exact same circumstance. After telling the caller who he was, Sawyer says the man hung up.
Publishers Clearing House is working with the Federal Trade Commission to stop fraudsters claiming to be with the sweepstakes company. Representatives say it;s difficult to prosecute the offenders because most of the time, the calls come from out of country.