March 31, 2009-Chicago, IL - Scam artists’ latest trick is using the well-known Publishers Clearing House name to steal money from unsuspecting individuals and harm the name of legitimate businesses.
Consumers are warned to be suspicious of any letter stating that they have won a monetary prize, yet must send money to another address.
“Any time a consumer or business receives a letter stating they have won a prize, but need to also send money to a location, usually outside the United States, they should check and recheck the validity of the offer,” explains Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.
“The vast majority of these so-called ‘prizes’ are nothing but scams to get unsuspecting people to send their money to scammers in exchange for worthless checks,” he said. “People find out the checks they received as prize money are worthless, only after they’ve sent a check of their own to the scammers.”
The Better Business Bureau has been notified by Tyler Tire & Oil Co. in Sistersville, West Virginia, that their business name has been falsely used on counterfeit checks in an attempt to scam consumers of thousands of dollars.
A representative of the Tyler Tire & Oil Co. called the West Virginia Better Business Bureau, stating consumers were receiving a letter from Publishers Clearing House claiming the consumers have won thousands of dollars. The letter instructs recipients to cash the enclosed check, keep $1,500 for themselves, and wire the rest to a Canadian address. The checks appear to come from Tyler Tire & Oil Co. with some being made out for as much as $10,000. After the money is wired back to Publishers Clearing House at the Canadian address, the checks bounce, the scam artists get their money, and the consumer is responsible for the entire check amount.
Tyler Tire & Oil Co. began receiving calls from consumers all across the U.S. several days ago, and immediately closed the affected bank account. Tyler Tire & Oil informed the BBB that the checks are counterfeit and were not issued by the company.
The BBB advises any consumer receiving similar letters and checks from an unknown source to not cash the check. If they are uncertain the check is legitimate, consumers should call the BBB, ask their bank, or take it to their local Postal Inspector for investigation.
The BBB advises consumers that legitimate sweepstakes, that we are aware of, DO NOT require you to purchase anything in order to win a prize. It has been BBB's experience that legitimate sweepstakes companies also DO NOT ask you to pay handling fees, taxes or other charges.