ELK COUNTY – With the Powerball jackpot now standing at $ 635 million for the Saturday night draw, it seems like everyone is dreaming and wanting to get rich, including the crooks over the phone.
Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) are warning all Pennsylvania residents they have seen a dramatic increase in calls, many of the elderly, which phone crooks have tricked into returning hundreds and thousands of dollars afterwards having learned that they had won a lottery jackpot, but must pay fees and taxes on the prize.
“If someone calls you and tells you you’ve won the publisher’s clearinghouse lottery or sweepstakes,” said Brent Miller, head of PSP, “and has to pay a fee and taxes before receiving the prize, he is lying to you. It’s that simple. “
The Pennsylvania Lottery also echoed this comment by noting on its website that “The Pennsylvania Lottery will never contact you to tell you that you have won a prize unless you entered a second chance draw. or a specific PA Lottery giveaway.
We will never ask you for your personal banking information or ask you to make additional purchases to claim a prize. “
The Publishers Clearing House is even more blunt with its warnings: “At PCH, winning is always free and you never have to pay to claim a prize. Recognize the difference between a legitimate sweepstakes and other types of offers that may not be legitimate. will help protect you and your family. If someone contacts you claiming to be from PCH and tells you that you have won a prize, then asks you to send a payment or a money card to claim the prize, STOP! real PCH. “
Local police stations have reported a sharp increase in the activity of phone crooks since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. “When people are home alone all day and have limited contact,” he said Said PSP Officer Brent Miller, “They’re there to answer a lot more calls than usual, and the crooks are selling that information to each other.”
AP residents can help stop fraudulent calls by registering with the National Do Not Call Registry by visiting the website at donotcall.gov. Registration in the register is free. However, even after you register, other types of organizations may still call you, such as charities, political groups, debt collectors, and surveys, but this will stop some calls.
“The best thing people can do is just hang up,” said PSP agent Brent Miller. “Our seniors are polite on the phone and don’t want to offend anyone, but every second they’re on the phone and answering the scammer’s questions, their answers are collected and then sold to the next scammer.” “No lottery or PCH needs to know your age, your banking information, the number of cars you own or whether you are renting or owning your home. They are just trying to get more information than they can sell to. other scammers, so even if you don’t fall for their scam, they still make you money. “
If you receive a suspicious phone call or email from someone claiming to represent the Pennsylvania Lottery, please contact the PA Lottery Security Division via email at [email protected] or call 717-702- 8026.
If you believe you have been the victim of an Internet fraud scheme, you can file an online complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, of which the FBI is a part, www.ic3.gov.
Victims of telemarketing fraud should contact the Federal Trade Commission toll free at 1-877-987-3728, or complete a form available online at www.ftc.gov.
“Victims of phone scams are often ashamed and never come forward,” said Brent Miller, head of PSP. “But we encourage you to contact us so that we can do what we can to help you, and know that your personal information is confidential.”