Winning sweepstakes letter and check grab attention, but aren't what they appear to be

Publishers Clearing House warns consumers about fake check scams
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jan 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-09 21:51:22-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Congratulations! You’ve won $2.5 million dollars to start 2024! Who wouldn’t be excited to get that notification… right? One of our viewers reached out to us after she says she got a letter in the mail with a check and some instructions on what to do to claim the prize.

”Boy that check looked so good! I mean, it really looked real,” said News5 viewer Suzanne Ferguson after she received a suspicious letter in the mail.

But as she took a closer look at this unexpected winning sweepstakes letter for a contest she says she never entered, she noticed the instructions included some red flags. The letter urged her to act now, not to tell anyone about it and she needed to use the included check to pay some fees to collect on her winnings.

We’ve reported on Publishers Clearing House scams in the past and even on the organization’s website it warns of fake check scams like this one. Fraudsters take the payment from the consumer, the included check bounces, and the victim is left on the hook for that money. All of this while never being a winner in the first place.

”I just hate to see people get taken for whatever amount of money this works out to. I just hate that. It’s not right,” said Ferguson.

While she’s disappointed, Suzanne is grateful she didn’t lose money and says she learned some lessons she’ll be sharing with the people in her life to help them stay safe from the next scam.

”Pay attention. Read through what you’ve got. Go online and see if you can find out if it’s legitimate or not and if you’re not sure contact (News5),” she said.

It’s so much better for us to be able to do a story showing that Ferguson did the right things instead of a cautionary tale about mistakes that can lead to major losses of money and sensitive information. She’s right, if you come across a situation you think might be a scam you can always reach out to News5 for help.


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