GLENDALE — Are you ready to be a big winner? One local woman was told the Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol was on the way to her home with cash and a new Mercedes. Unfortunately, what ended up happening to her led her daughter to reach out to FOX6's Contact 6.
"We've been signing up for the publisher's clearing house since forever," explained Janet Lewis.
So, when Lewis got a call last month from a man claiming to be from Publisher's Clearing House, she was excited.
"I was just thrilled to death," Lewis recalled.
The man told her she was a winner.
"He said, you've won $2,000 in cash. A certified check for $5,500. A 2016 Mercedes C Class," Lewis said.
She couldn't wait to collect all of her prizes, but the man told her there was one thing she had to do first.
"You have to put down $550," Lewis remembered him saying.
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Lewis was told it was for taxes.
So, she wired money not once, but twice.
"The next time was $700," Lewis said.
After sending the money, Lewis waited for her winnings.
"Sitting out on the porch, waiting for this flatbed to come by with my red Mercedes — It's not coming," Lewis realized.
She called her kids and they came over right away. They knew immediately what had happened.
"They both came flying into the house yelling, 'Mom, are you crazy? Are you nuts?'" Lewis recalled.
Lewis's daughter Cindy Kahn never thought it would happen to her mother. So, she called Contact 6 to warn others.
"There's no way to get your money back. But, at least warning other people of yet another twist to the scams that are out there," Kahn said to her mother.
"I wanted it to be true so badly," Lewis said.
It's very common for scammers to use well-known names to fake people out. In this case with Publisher's Clearing House, there's two obvious red flags.
First, if you get a phone call, a letter, an e-mail or even a Facebook message, it's most likely a scam. For all their major prizes, Publishers Clearing House delivers them in person with the Prize Patrol. If someone tries to contact you ahead of time, it's not real.
Second, if someone asks you to send a payment of any kind before collecting your prizes, it's a scam. In fact, it's directly on the Publishers Clearing House website: "Winning is ALWAYS free!"
"My greed took over. I wanted the money and I wanted the car," Lewis said.
Lewis is embarrassed she fell for this at all, but she doesn't want it to happen to anyone else.
"Just be careful. If it's too good to be true, it usually is," Lewis advised.
Publishers Clearing House actively warns consumers about potential fraud and scams. If you'd like to learn more about it and get more advice, click HERE.