Man loses thousands in Publishers Clearing House scam

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It seems like a dream come true. You get a letter, and it says you've won a major sweepstakes! FOX6's Contact 6 says you shouldn't get too excited -- because "winning" can cost you.

You've seen the ads. A man shows up at your door with a big check, and announces you've won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

So imagine one man's delight when he got this letter stating he won.

"It said it was from Publishers Clearing House and it showed a sample check for $1.5 million," the victim said.

The victim in this case is embarrassed he was lured into a scam that cost him hundreds of dollars.

When he received the letter, he contacted the name and number and was told he needed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes to collect the winnings.

When the victim said he didn't have the money...

"They have a solution for him. What they describe as prior winners can 'sponsor' him and provide payment to meet the necessary payments to get the prize," U.S. Postal Inspector Larry Dodson said.

The victim unknowingly turned into a middle man for con artists. He was receiving checks from other people who believed they are paying off taxes on their jackpot.

He then converted them to cash and spent hundreds of dollars sending packages overnight to Canada.

After re-shipping almost $119,000, the victim got a call from Canadian police who intercepted one of the packages.

"Get a magazine and then you get the cash and fold it into the magazine and then you get an envelope and send it. Why are you sending this to Canada? I said 'to pay taxes to win my Publishers Clearing House winnings.' They said 'we don`t collect taxes unless you are a Canadian citizen.' That kind of threw me. Then all of a sudden when I tried to call these people, the numbers were all disconnected. That`s when I knew I had been taken," the victim said.

The victim in this case says he has learned a valuable lesson.

"I should have called Publishers Clearing House to see if this exists. Had I done that, none of this would have probably happened. I have no one to blame but myself," the victim said.

Contact 6 says no legitimate lottery or so-called contest, like the Publishers Clearing House will ever ask for fees or taxes to be paid upfront.