Scammers are leaching themselves to The Chronicle’s coverage of the Publishers Clearing House winners in Cottage Grove on Feb. 28.
The story was widely shared on social media platforms. Chronicle staff has reported, banned, and deleted the false profiles when possible. PCH and police urge people to not interact with the accounts, and report the scammers.
Area residents and Chronicle readers have been contacted by online scammers claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House – reaching out through comments and direct messages on Facebook.
Police warn the scam artists will use any means available, including mail, telephone and other forms of social media. PCH officials said thieves use well-recognized, legitimate brand names in an attempt to have people send money or provide personal financial information to claim a nonexistent prize.
PCH explicitly awards major-prize winners, such as Tamar Veatch in Cottage Grove, through a live and in-person visit by the Prize Patrol – never through any other means.
Smaller prizes are awarded through an overnight express carrier such as UPS, FedEx or USPS Express Mail and occasionally via email.
“The biggest thing is looking out for the sender of an email that on the surface may look like a legitimate address, but is actually masked,” Lane County Creswell Sgt. Scott Denham said. “If you click on the actual sender name, the email address will reveal itself and you can see that it is actually most likely from a foreign country.”
PCH will never ask for money if you are a real winner, so do not give away any personal financial information, wire money or send a prepaid gift card. Do not cash a check and send a portion back to them as a payment for any reason.
Denham said that, in general, there has been an uptick in other fraud scams and identity theft with credit cards in Creswell, and encourages residents to check their credit reports to ensure their information is not being used to open accounts without their knowledge, and points people to freecreditreport.com.
If you’ve received a PCH contact by email or on Facebook, report it using the Scam Incident Report at pch.custhelp.com/app/report_scam in addition to forwarding the scam email/Facebook request to [email protected].