The Fremont Police Department is once again warning Fremont residents of a scam that has been recurring over the last several months.
The scam tricks unsuspecting individuals into believing that they’ve won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. The Fremont Police Department posted a warning to residents on its Facebook page on Thursday.
The most recent victim of the scam was reported on Wednesday, according to Fremont Police Lieutenant Ed Watts. That individual lost $100.
“We just keep seeing it pop up now and then,” Watts said. “It comes in cycles. We’ll get a couple and then we won’t hear anything for a while. Then we’ll get a couple. So I don’t know if this is the beginning of another cycle or not.”
The Fremont area has seen three variations of the scam, Watts said.
In one variation, an individual receives word from an organization purporting to be Publishers Clearing House that they’ve won a new car — all they have to do is send a fee to help pay for the delivery of the car.
In another variation, an organization purporting to be Publishers Clearing House mails a check as a “partial prize,” claiming that if the victim cashes the check and sends back a portion of the money, they will be able to claim the full prize.
And in the last variation, a person is told that they’ve won a cash prize, but in order to claim it, they have to pay a fee. They are often instructed to pay the fee by purchasing a gift card and then submitting the information on the gift card so the scammer can claim the money.
“That seems to be from even things I’ve looked at online, the three most common that are going around right now,” Watts said.
Watts said that residents should be wary about anyone reaching out claiming to be Publishers Clearing House — the organization never notifies winners in advance. Its famous “Prize Patrol” shows up at the door of the winner with balloons and a celebratory check as a surprise.
Additionally, no Publishers Clearing House prize will ever require the winner to pay a fee for any kind of prize.
“If you get any kind of phone call, mail, email anything from Publishers Clearing House stating that you won a prize and you have to pay any amount of money to claim it, it’s a scam,” Watts said.
Watts said that while the scam has continued to be reported, he believes that people are starting to become aware of the farce.
“We’re getting calls from people who did not fall victim to the scam but wanted to report it, just so we’re aware of it.”
Generally speaking, the police department has not seen an uptick in scams recently — it’s just noticing that they continue to occur in cycles. Watts encourages people who are unsure of whether they are being scammed to contact the police department and ask before committing to anything. The police department will likely be unable to track your money down if you follow through with the scam.
“I hate to sound cliche, but if it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” Watts said. “Do not give your personal information out. Again if they’re asking you to send money for any reason, it’s probably a scam, hang up.”