The Middle Man: How to avoid a sweepstakes scam - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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The Middle Man: How to avoid a sweepstakes scam

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A letter arrives claiming you've won a major sweepstakes.  We'll tell you what not do next and how it can save you a fortune.

You've seen the ads. A man shows up at your door with a big check and announces you've won the publishing clearing house sweepstakes.

So imagine one man's delight when he got this letter stating he won…

"It said it was from publisher's clearing house and it showed a sample check for $1.5 million dollars," says the victim who does not want to be identified.

When he received the letter he contacted the name and number and was told he needed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes to collect the winnings.

When the victim said he didn't have the money they had a solution for him. They said prior winners can "sponsor" him and provide payment to meet the necessary payments to get the prize."

The victim unknowingly turned into a middle man for con-artists. He was receiving checks from other people who believed they are paying off taxes on their jackpot.

He then converted them to cash and spent hundreds of dollars sending packages overnight to Canada.

After re-shipping almost $119-thousand dollars the victim got a call from Canadian police who intercepted one of the packages.

Police told him that they don't collect taxes unless you are a Canadian citizen.

"Publishers Clearing House- immediately it was something that was recognizable to him, he heard it before. And you think well, finally I've won something. I've got the American dream that I've seen on TV before. So he was eager to do whatever was necessary to collect that prize," says retired U.S. Postal Inspector Larry Dodson.

The victim in this case says he has learned a valuable lesson by not calling Publishers Clearing House to see if this exists.

Postal Inspectors want to remind consumers no legitimate lottery or so-called contest, like the Publishers Clearing House, will ever ask for fees or taxes to be paid up front.

Sarah Panko

Sarah is the anchor/ producer for News Three First Edition at 5/4 central time. She also brings you the latest Consumer Reports on the Nightwatch at 11/10 central. More>>

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