We’ve all gotten those “You may already be a winner” mailers, but this was a first for me. My phone rang the other morning so I did what you’re supposed to do, I answered. On the other end was this strangely mechanical voice asking me if I was Dave. “Yes”, I said, “and who am I talking to?” The voice gave a name that I immediately forgot, and then asked me if I remembered entering the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes a while back.

By now the warning bells were going off big time, but I played along. Even though it’s been years since I’ve entered that sweepstakes I said, “Yeah, but it’s been a long time.”

The voice said that I, Dave, had been selected to win $950,000! “Woo-hoo!” I thought, “My troubles are over!”

But wait, there’s more! I had also won … A NEW CAR!

And the people waiting to deliver my prize were just, “One house away!”

All I needed to do was confirm who I was by calling George at a toll-free number. The number was an 876 area code and I dutifully wrote it down along with a notation that George would be waiting for my call at extension 5. I even had a package number to pass along to George when I called to ensure I got the correct prize package.

After promising to call, I hung up. Then, rather than call George, I called my friends at the Better Business Bureau. As soon as I told them the area code the BBB representative said, “You can stop right there, that area code is for Jamaica.”

Yah, mon, I was being scammed.

So much for the new car. So much for nearly a million bucks. Oh, well. It was an interesting phone call. The mechanical voice must have been the result of a processor to take away the Jamaican accent.

Apparently this is a pretty common scam lately, so if you get a call from a mechanical voice telling you you’ve won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and they ask you to call George at area code 876, don’t do it. But do call the Better Business Bureau any time you have questions about things like this. If it’s something ongoing they can tell you, and if it’s new, they need to know about it. So does Publishers Clearing House and they have a special fraud number to report it, 1-800-392-4190. Or you can email them at abuse@pch.com.

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