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By Erin Smith

Some Bladen County residents have recently reported being contacted by someone calling from a Jamaican telephone number posing as a Publisher’s Clearing House representative.

At least one resident reported that the caller stated they were with the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol and needed their address to verify their winnings. Others have reported being asked to wire money to an account to cover “taxes or fees” on the prize they have won.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports on their website they have received numerous complaints about scammers posing as Publisher’s Clearing House. The FTC website states, “Paying to collect a prize is a scam. Every time. And scammers like to ask you to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or by getting a prepaid card or gift card. Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to trace that money – and you’ll almost never get your money back.”

Publisher’s Clearing House offers some tips on their website to stay safe from scams. They state that winning with Publisher’s Clearing House is always free and you do not have to pay any fees or taxes to claim your prize. The company does not notify winners in advance but rather “live and in person” with flowers and a check for the winning prize, according to their website.

If you are contacted by anyone who asks for prepayment to claim a “prize” or someone attempting to obtain bank account information or your social security number, hang up and contact your local law enforcement.