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Bedford investigators issue warning about Publishers Clearing House scam

Deputies were tipped off about the crime by a Forest man, who received a fake check in the mail

December 22, 2010|Tim Saunders | Reporter/Lynchburg Bureau Chief

BEDFORD, Va. — Most of us have seen the commercials: Publishers Clearing House delivering a big check to an excited winner.

A new scam is using the popular company's name to trick people into thinking they've won millions of dollars.

Investigators in Bedford say the crime has hit their county, but they're fighting it with the help of one man who almost became a victim.

When he checked the mailbox Monday afternoon, George Ivey thought he was getting an early Christmas present: a check from Publishers Clearing House for 3.6 million dollars.

"There's a lot of people I could help with 3.6 million dollars this time of year," said Ivey.

The check came attached to a letter.

"It looks real," said Ivey.  "It's got the same address as Publishers Clearing House."

But it wasn't real, and Ivey quickly figured that out when he called the number on the letter.

"The man on the phone started asking me for money," said Ivey.  "He said that I could get the check, but I would need to supply $250."

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They also asked for Ivey's social security number

"I knew from that, something wasn't right,' said Ivey.

Instead of sending the money, he called the Bedford County Sheriff's Office.

"We've always been taught not to be rude to people on the telephone," said Major Ricky Gardner with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office.  "This is a situation where you need to be rude to people."

Gardner says a legitimate company will never ask for personal information over the phone, or ask you to send money.

"When you see these (scam letters), just throw them in the trash can and if someone calls you, just hang up and don't talk to them."

Ivey did just that, and he's hoping others will do the same.

"Even though it looks good, it's a scam," said Ivey.

Bedford County is working with the FBI to investigate the operation that's sending out the fake checks.

Publishers Clearing House says it's aware of this scam.  They're reminding people who get the checks that no payment is ever necessary to claim any of the company's prizes.

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