'Time is against us!' Man tells me that I won $2.5 million

He wanted me to go home to meet Publishers Clearing House

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
July 30, 2019 - 10:47 am

My cell phone rang, I looked at the screen and saw it was someone in Jamaica calling.  I knew that I don't know anyone in Jamaica, but as a journalist I was motivated to answer the phone to see what would happen.

As the man on the other end of the line started talking, I started recording.

"You have won Publishers Clearing House today for a $2.5 million check," he told me. "I would like to say congratulations to you sir... this is not a hoax or a joke."

I asked him how I could claim my prize. That's when it got really weird as he started asking me where I was and how far I was from home.  

The man started pressuring me to leave work and go home right away.

"You are going to have to leave right now sir, because time is against us!"

I knew full well I had not won anything, but was really curious to figure out why he was so bent on me going home.

He told me I had to "get home to receive this... to have this presentation done for you."

"This is not a hoax or a joke," he said several times. "You are going to have to leave right now... time is against us."

When I told him I could not be there right now, because I had to drive there, he hung up on me.

I did check the PCH website and saw that winners are never notified by phone.

"Winners will be notified by mail or in person at our option." 

The Federal Trade Commission says scams are common involving claims that you have won the sweepstakes.

"Who wouldn’t love to be that winner you see on TV holding a great big sweepstakes check? That’s what con artists are counting on when they claim to be Publishers Clearing House," it says on the FTC Website.  

The site warned:

  • Never send money to collect a prize, sweepstakes check, or lottery winnings. If you have to pay, it’s a scam.
  • Never deposit a check and send back money, even if the funds appear in your account. That’s a sure sign of a scam.
  • If anyone calls asking you to pay for a prize, hang up and report it to the FTC.

According to the AARP, a lot of scams also come from Jamaican phone numbers.

The one that I got came from (876) 586-7952.

The organization says be cautious with this Jamaican area code. If you do not have friends, relatives, or business associates in Jamaica, there is probably a scammer on the other end of line.

“Anyone receiving an unexpected call from area code 876 should be on high alert,” James Boffetti, New Hampshire senior assistant attorney general told the AARP. “There is a high likelihood that these calls are from scam artists. Unfortunately, these scammers are very persistent and in some cases verbally abusive, threatening to harm victims if they do not send money.”

When I played the call during the Early Edition of WWL First News, several people texted me to say they or someone they knew also got a call like mine.

"My brother received a call from somebody that was supposedly from publishers clearing house," one caller texted. "Obviously, it was a huge scam but the sad part is is that he fell for it!"

The brother actually sent them money.

Other listeners said:

  • My mom got the same call 2 months ago but it was for 13 point million and a new car when i asked the guy how u can win witout entering he hung up.
  • My elderly mom was scammed out of $1000 by a PCH scammer. It's very easy to confuse and convince (con) because their commercials have begun on TV. We called the PCH scam hotline and baton rouge sheriff's office and had to monitor her emails. It has been a nightmare to this day because she STILL believes she was a winner.
  • I got the same call a couple of years ago I told them I did not need the money because I was independently wealthy he told me I was a liar and cussed me out. 
  • This was done to a friend of mine a couple years ago and once you get home they want all your bank account information

So, while I didn't win $2.5 million... at least I learned a few things and got to share my experince.

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