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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. This trick is an oldie but goodie for scammers.

The scam starts with a call or letter saying you’ve won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. But to collect your prize, they say, you need to send money to pay for fees and taxes. Typically you’ll be asked to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or by getting a reloadable card or gift card. Scammers ask you to pay these ways because it’s nearly impossible to trace the money — and you’ll almost never get it back.

But that’s not the only way scammers get your money with this scam. Some will send you a realistic-looking fake check in the mail. You’re told that, to claim your prize, you need to deposit the check and send some of the money back for made-up expenses. But when the check you deposit bounces — even after it seemed to clear — you may be on the hook for the money you sent.

If you think you’ve won a prize, here are a few things to know:

  • 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 at

Want to know more? Read our article on Prize Scams. And, if you wired money to a prize scammer via Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you might be eligible for a refund.

Still think it’s real? The real Publishers Clearing House says it will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize. Check out Publishers Clearing House’s fraud protection page.

Note: The title was updated on April 25, 2018 to make clear that this blog post addresses scammers impersonating Publishers Clearing House.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

May 18, 2018
I just got a call saying I won 1.5 million and a 2018 Benz!! They asked me to go to the Western Union to pay the taxes. $368.00 I kept him "John Peterson" on the phone as long as I could before having to get back to work. I was told the best thing to do is keep them on the line as long as you can then they don't have time to scam someone else.
Got him good
May 19, 2018
Yeah this dude from Jamaica Mr. Rodgers (HAHAHHA ) Said I'd won something with PCH, knew it was a scam so I kept him on the phone for as long as I could so he couldn't get someone else. Got super mad at him when I told him I knew it was a scam but not before he called me 'sweetheart' and tried to explain things to me. Phone number was 876-391-9997
May 20, 2018
I've been having people on Instagram contact me. One said that I had won 6 million, and that I needed to pay $299.Then one tonight said I won 1 million plus 10 thousand and a 2017 Mercades Benz and that I had to pay $399 before I could get my winnings. I said you don't have to pay money to get money. And they said I had life messed up, that I didn't understand life at all. Then I sent them a screen shot of a picture of a statement from the real pch, that said there are no strings attached to get your winning. Then they stopped talking to me.
May 20, 2018
they claim there are sweepstakes but I know they are not the call unknown I would like to see the sweepstakes scam numbes when complains are making on this site
May 20, 2018
My friend just lost $900 from a scam sent to her through Facebook messenger pretending to be me. I won and saw her name on the list. They said they were Publishers clearing house. Why are there people like this. She is retired and needed this money. The text was sent to all my Facebook Friends.
May 21, 2018
Got a call from Jamaica kept the caller on the phone a while. He tried to convince me that he was from PCH and I had won third prize on $100,000 and a new Lexus. The TV cameras will be here at 3:00PM. But, before they could come here, I would need to wire 1% OF THE winnings to an IRS Attorney so they could issue a gold stamp. I explained to him that is not the way it works and that it is nothing but a scam and hung up.
Spike, Los Angeles
May 22, 2018
May 22, 2018 - I just received a call saying he was from Publishers Clearing House and He had an envelope they had tried to deliver to me but no one was home. It contained a check for over 1 million dollars, and I was to call a phone number -and that he was from Consumer Affairs and was holding this check for me. I told him to mail it to me but he said I had to call and gave me a tracking number. I'm sure it is a scam.
May 22, 2018
May 22 phone call stated i have won 3/12 million and a new mercedes!! it was a combined PCH and Walmart etc price my funds were going to be delivered by hand today!! scary! they had way to much information
May 24, 2018
post the sweepstakes scammers phone numbers also when commenting they are terrible
Jani in Tennessee
May 24, 2018
Just got the same call from 1-876-350-9846 (Jamaica) The accents were so heavy I could not decipher every word. The first man I spoke with put me on hold and had me speak with his manager, I had won a car and a check for $850,000.00 but I had to go to Walmart and do a Walmart to Walmart transaction to Troy Meyers in Miami, FL. I am not dumb or blonde, I explained there is no way I am going to send $310.00 without any confirmation this was legit. Mr. Mike Global is the mgr. I was on the phone with and gave me a number to verify 1-876-461-8410. I muted him and made the call on anther phone. OMG the worst falsetto (man trying to sound female voice answered the phone saying, "Publishers Clearing House". You would think these people would at least try to sound professional. What a joke!!!! I am leaving my work now and I am pretty confident there is no new car in my driveway!!!! BEWARE!!!!!
Missouri Mule
May 24, 2018
Just received two calls from a Michael Cummings stating I won a prize from PCH. Two different numbers,,,,,929-286-9155 and 982-8266. Beware in STL
May 25, 2018
Just received a call from 876-309-5627 said i won 5.5million and a Mercedes Benz from PCH. Had to call 207-423-9301 to find out how to receive my prize. Name on caller ID said Joan Siemann. They wanted me to go to Walgreens and get a 175$ Amazon gift card. After the purchase call them back and they would call Mr. Chamberlain in Cleveland, Ohio so he could leave to bring me my prize. I needed the gift card to swipe in his brief case when he arrived. Not quite sure why? Sounded good though for a minute I thought my dreams come true. Thank God for Google. From what i read PCH never calls you if your a winner. I hate scammers!!!
Scammer victim…
May 26, 2018
I received a call from Sam Johnson, General Manager, Price Division at 914-297-6039. He started out by verifying my name which I didn't say yes or no to verify. Then he asked if I lived alone and I asked him what that had to do with receiving a price and then he hung up. I might just keep calling him on this number and then hanging up just to waste his time like he is doing with me and other people.
crystal blue
May 27, 2018
A friend told me that she won money from PCH Poker star Mega Bonus Commission & Millions Association. She had to pay $500.oo to ITunes prepaid card. She did receive the money. It is in the form of a grant. Did she won this money or will she have to pay it back with interest? I'm asking, because she gave me the information to contact Dave Sayer at PCH to get my winnings. If I collect the money is it a prize or a loan with a high interest rate?
FTC Staff
May 30, 2018

In reply to by crystal blue

The FTC does not have information about that contest.

If someone says you won a prize or grant, but they say you must pay money before you get the prize, that's a scam. If you receive a legitimate prize or grant, you don't have pay anything first.

Scammers are o…
May 28, 2018
Just received a call from a private # saying they wanted to drop a package at my house & needed to clear up some business. The man on the phone said he was from PCH and had an Indian accent. He was rude from the beginning & asked if I lived in Atlanta, GA. He got irritated with me when I asked for details on the package such as name & address. He told me I won $250,000,000 & a Mercedes. When I didn't want to give him any information because I knew I have never signed up for PCH & it was a scam, he gave me a # to call (806)464-7451 & a package number then promptly hung up. Thank goodness for the internet & people posting their experiences because this is where I headed before calling any numbers & now I can confirm it is a scam.
Smarter than them
June 12, 2018
Got an email from them. They said that I won, but how can I win when I never entered. This is a scam. They are not using Publishers Clearing House email domain, but a free and a foreign email addresses. If they are using a free or foreign email addresses, its a scam. I forwarded the email to abuse@ and to
Wishful thinking
June 13, 2018
1876 591 5096 is one of the numbers they keep calling from 10 calls in a few days
Purple October
October 11, 2019

In reply to by Wishful thinking

I just got that one. I asked him to check if I had to take the Mercedes. I am happy with my Jaguar. "Can you ask for me if I can have a newer Jaguar instead?" Dial tone.
My story
June 14, 2018
I just received a call from Jamaica the gentleman said his name was Robt Martin and I won the 2nd place prize of $18.5 million + a 2018 Mercedes that was scheduled to b delivered to my addr. today, and that all I needed to do was to pick-up a receipt at my loc. P.O or Walmart and send them a money order for $750. I imm. hung up & called my loc. police who gv. me a tel# for Fraud Dept that was keeping tract of these calls, I call that # but it was no longer any good, I called the police back & was told they did not hv any other # to report this to. Soooo, here I am & hopefully you can use this info.
L spencer
May 25, 2019

In reply to by My story

I got the same calltoday claiming that his name was Jacob Summers he told me that I was the second prize winner for 2.8 million dollars and a 8th class convertible Mercedes being 2019 version he gave me a badge number he gave me a tracking number and he also gave me a PIN code and two different lawyers name one by the name of Bob Goldwater and the other one by the name of Mary Ellen Jones who was supposed to be the one who had the check for the 2.8 million dollars and that they are on their way to my home from Lufkin Texas and he needs additional information he started asking about my kids and he said are they all girls and are they miners I told him know I have grown boy and then I asked him why was he so concerned with my family went the money wasn't going to my name it was going to go into my boyfriend's name he got upset when I started questioning him beware of the scammers
me too
November 24, 2020

In reply to by My story

No fair. I was told I was a 1st prize winner, but it was only $2.5 million. Also, the guy said his name was Mr. Bobby Brown. I asked him how to spell it because I know some people who spell it Braun, and I overheard him asking someone how to spell his own last name. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was a scam. . . .
Don't use your…
June 16, 2018
Yes I was contacted 2 tomes off of Facebook and reported both to be told that there was no crime committed both times I was told u a on the 1000 a week house and car asked for money Western Union I knew second was a scam kept her going to get more info to report properly . Scammers are sick people with no heart. Need to stop them All . Fresno California JoJo be Bug
Always Ask Que…
June 19, 2018
This happened to me today I received a phone call. They claim that I want a big prize and all this other stuff. They asked me if I wanted to register to clean my prize and do register was a fee as soon as I mentioned that I'd much rather do this in person when they brought me my price they hung up. Always ask questions if you're the winner of something you always have the right to ask questions. Hope this helps
June 22, 2018
American Winners International said I won 3.5 Million and car, just send $1500 for delivery! Then more and more each time for fees. #8764683956; no delivery & no help from FTC,Scamgard,others. Private info is published on line by Whitepages, Truthfinder,etc! Please stop this! Nobody's business!
July 02, 2018
Grandmother just got a call from a John Carr (phone #516-259-2919) saying they were from Publisher's Clearinghouse and was going to deposit 1 Million dollars in her savings account. They called multiple times today. I told my grandmother to let me talk to them. I asked them why they need her bank account info and they said they don't transport money anymore they have to wire transfer. They asked me who I was and I said I was her grandson and work for a law firm. I ask him to confirm their identity by mailing a letter from their offices to the address they had on file. They said what's your e-mail address. I repeated that I asked for a Physical Letter. He never replied. I stated that he would be reported to the BBB and the local authorities. He hung up.
I don’t trust …
July 02, 2018
I received a toy in the mail I never ordered( I had entered sweepstakes online but have never ordered); writing on box apoeared to be Arabic , carcinogen warnings on it, and am now getting bills for it stating they have added on late fees! I didn’t call the Number on the bill, and couldn’t find a REAL phone number to check , or a real email address to check. Then I got a $10.00 check in the mail saying I’m a winner....more entry crap which I haven’t gotten in the mail for ages; no clue if PCH randomly sends you things just to get payments or if this is some jerk scamming!
July 03, 2018
I received an email from James Ramsey, July 3rd saying I won 1,850,000. It said PCH-087-0426-2018. It asked for my name and Address, phone number, and my age. I think it's a scam!!! Am I right?
July 12, 2018

In reply to by Ralp1948

I received the same email today. Yeah it’s a scam
Tex Llama Man
July 04, 2018
Don't know if this is new or not, but friend of mins had his Facebook account info stolen and used it to send his friends a message about a PCH grant offer to eliminate poverty. I contacted the so-called agent and found out I could get $350,000 if I would just send in a $500 Walmart gift card to cover transfer fees. Next day my friend contacted me and stated his mail had been compromised. This was just another scam.
Magazine sales
July 09, 2018
Got a call today June 9, 2018 telling me that I won a gold brand name watch and free magazines and was about to win $25,000.00 if I accepted magazines which would cost 4 dollars plus weekly. I said - "What if I don't want the magazines" … She said then we do this … and hung up!!! Scammers!!!
July 10, 2018
I received a friends request, on facebook, from a Dennis Carley, who said I won PCH. When Dennis asked for my address and phone #, I knew he was a scammer. Beware!
Oh if it were …
July 18, 2018
At 4:37 pm on July 18, 2018, I received a call from Publishers Clearing House stating that I had won 18 million and a new Mercedes.... all I needed to do before tomorrow morning when the prize team showed up was to send them (via Fed-Ex) a check for $4000!!!! You're kidding, right? I told the guy that I did not understand why I had to pay to win a prize and he hung up. He also had no name given nor any phone number displayed on my cell phone.
July 19, 2018
I got a call today 7/19/18 from a private number to call back 8638556946, when i called they said i won 2.5 million and i have to pay 1,400 for the check to be delivered from NW. But they're number showed Florida. SCAM!
July 20, 2018
Jw54 I got and email from a man calling himself john james wembley and to send $300.00 dollars to another man named luis chavez which they called a claiming receipt and that i won 2.5 million a 2018 GMC. And 5000 thousand a week for life plus 50,000 up front.i called pch my self and found out these people are scam artist,they told me pch never ask for money so don't believe anyone whom says that you need to send money and this john james wembley guy even had enough nerve to request me as a friend on Facebook to so people need to watch out for that name on there too!!thanks for reading!!
July 25, 2018
Received a call from a man this morning telling me he was a representative of Publishers Clearing House, and I had won a $5000.00 weekly cash prize for life, and said all I had to do was go to the post office and get money order for $368.99. I am very happy that my wife was with me to convince me that this was a scam, and to forfeit the prize. After hanging up the phone, she went to PCH's website, and sure enough there it was in black and white---SCAM!!!..Praise the Lord I have a very wise wife, and she protected me from being a FOOL, and losing $368.99. Please if you are like me,and easily pulled into a situation like this, and if you have a computer available go to the PCH website, and check it out while on the phone. Then you can tell the sucker on the phone what he can do with this phony cash prize. The name that was give me as the agent of PCH was Jay Summers, and the person for me to contact if I doubted this was on the up and up was Randy Thomas 7203 South Rd., Cadiz, Kentucky 42211. The number for PCH verification given me was 1-702-746-1505. My caller ID showed the call came from J M Kingston 876-280-6571. My wife called this number, and the person that answered this number was the same man that I had talked to when I was told I had won the $5000.00 for life prize. When asked why he had answered the phone he said they were just using a cheaper line, HUH!! If you get a call like this, before you get involved tell the person on the phone to hold on while you contact PCH, he probably won't be there when you get back. Consider this a warning, so be wise if you get a call like this.
Once again
July 26, 2018
Same crap. Paul Cooper, 750k and 5k/wee for life. Asked for a bunch of info available on the web. The told me had to prepay some taxes. Told him I know that don't have to prepay taxes and hung up.
July 26, 2018
Their app puts items in the shopping cart automatically, if you browse their products. And if you leave the products in the cart, they will process the order automatically even if you didn't go through the checking out process. That happened to me, and I called them on the phone about this issue. The phone agents are very rude and have a terrible attitude if you ask to cancel the order.
September 17, 2019

In reply to by Dzar

THIS!!!! This exact thing KEEPS HAPPENING to my mom!!!! This is a total rip off and I am contacting the news stations!!!!!
August 02, 2018
I have a man now trying to get me to send him 150.00 for a million dollars that's been two weeks ago and he still calling wanting me to go to Walmart and send it money gram to Monet Gram and call him when I get the receipt and the prize patrol will be at my house with the million. I told him I'm on a fixed income he wants me to take 150.00 out of my check I told him I can't afford it, he says you'll get it back as soon as you call me they will be at your house you'll get it right back. Then last Saturday I got a call it came up jamica I asked him why did it come up jamica on my phone he said I got another call I'll call you right back he did and it was a0 that Tim. Also the night before he called me on a Monday Evening I got a text from PCH and texting me I had won the million and I said I find this hard to believe a 2018 Ford and a million I told the guy that was calling he said that was his boss he didn't say nothing bout the 150.00 to receive it I told him no he didn't the name of person who message me on messenger was Meagan Washington and the guy calling me told me his name is Raymond Farrow and he told my husband his name is Raymond Washington he called my house and then a couple of days later he told me it would be 700.00 I asked why he said for storage. This crap is bull crap at first when he called the number would say California then it came up jamica I'm not answering no more. He wanted me to send money gram to money Gram to Ontario Canada he gave me a name but I throwed it away the paper I had it wrote on I asked him who this was he said the lady over the bank!! Sorry they aren't getting money from me they make it sound ligit and I can see how people to send their money to them. It's aweful and something needs to be done about it. Thank You
August 03, 2018
Got a call from a guy named Maurice who said we won 750.000 and a new car. He fooled my wife, but not me. She bought some of his crap and sent 100 cash thru western union to him. Then he claimed he was just 11 blocks from our house bringing our big winnings lol. But for over the next five hours there was always some excuse why they were not here yet. He got on the phone with trying convince me he was on the up and up and not a fraud like I told my wife he was. I told him he was full of crap and that he was a con and about certain friends I had in law enforcement. This moron still argued with me about how real he was and how he was going to prove me wrong in the morning. Yes this was all tonight. I said he could come to my house and prove it all in person and I would have it all checked out. He said that they would be here in the morning to prove me wrong and for me to calm down lol. I told him that once I get off the phone it would be the last time I would hear from him since I know they are cons. This guy still insisted he was legit. Eventually my cut out and that was the end of the conversation. Anyway the call came from a Jamaica area code. This is the number he kept calling from. 1 876 452 7543.
Kay Brown
August 14, 2018
I just had a call today--August 14, that I won 1.2 million and a new car. The caller gave me two tracking #'s and then wanted to know how late the bank is open and what time is it now! I am somewhat confident that PCH would know that MN is in the Central Time Zone. The bank needed to be open so that I could deposit the 1.2 million, I didn't tell caller that I don't have an account at this bank. I told the caller that my significant other was home and has a conceal and carry permit, so I should be fine overnight with the 1.2 million dollar check. I am curious who they hire locally to be part of this scam!!!!!!
August 15, 2018
A person by the name of James Franklin 936-628-8768 has been calling my elderly father saying he is an attorney representing PCH. He tells my father that he has won $ 5mil and a new Mercedes. I spoke to this person, he has a foreign accent, is rude, belligerent and cursed at me several times when I questioned him. This is a scam. Do not deal with this person, block his calls. PCH only notifies their winners in person. I contacted local authorities about this and they confirmed that this is a scam.
August 16, 2018
Scammers are using a new number 302-686-1496. Remember if it is legit they will never ask you to pay for anything.
August 20, 2018
I received pch clearoing house card inside my CAA magazine . Says on it scarc h and i wi $50000 fake. They are so snekyw giving mail box number no street name I work for Cpost. I m not fouling for it.
Christina S
August 23, 2018
I report any pch without a blue check I've been told so many times I've won and I still haven't give up I believe dreams can come true for me in disabled 40 yr old mother of 2 kids who w luv to win we check pch mail together have made sign written letters etc vip elite million club here I come:)
August 23, 2018
I was just recently had a friend on my Facebook messgener. Telling me that she seen my name on the Publisher's Clearing House's list of winners. After telling her that I was never notified about that.She gave me a phone number to text (636) 344-8343 and to give the person who is directly employed with Publisher's Clearing House, so I texted that person and they confirmed that I am on the list of winners. That in order to get the money I needed to send a ITunes card number via the above number. I told that person, because I collect SSI, which is in the amount of $750.00,which I wouldn't be able to send the money. The person asked me what amount would I be able to send. I said $10.00. The person said that the lowest that they can accept is $250.00.Then I told that to my "friend " and she agreed to pay for the fee,but won't be able to get the card until tomorrow. Because it was late and that CVS is closed. After relying that to the person, they asked me if I could just go to the CVS tonight. Which I replied that they would have to wait until tomorrow, because it's late here and the CVS stores are closed. But after going online I discovered that it's a scam.
August 24, 2018
PCH is not a scam but there are people who cheat on the games to get tokens they do not deserve.
Jose A
September 27, 2018
I have been hoing through in ordeal of problems cause of pch. If pch is s legit and really cares about its players and all the personal data they are collecting. They shouldinvest in cyber security to pervent customers intonation from being stolden, thry are responsible from our information and to protect it by Federal law. We must start a class action lawsuit. All my personal in was hacked stolen from their site which they are responsible to protect, but will not do do cause thry dont care about their customers or in on it. Action must be taking.
September 07, 2018
PRIZE RELEASE #1 Wake Up & Win