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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.

September 07, 2018
Received a call today Sep 7, 2018 at 10:11 am from a David with a heavy accent. I couldn't understand him and asked him to repeat what he said. He said I'm with Publishers Clearing House. Are you familiar with them? I told him I was and I don't believe he's with them and hung up on him. He called from 876-507-8470 which says it is in Jamaica.
September 09, 2018
They billed me for something I have not received. PCH is an unscrupulous site. Never click or visit any of their sites if you don't want to get scammed.
September 12, 2018
Buy an old-fashioned analog answering machine (we got rid of AT&T CallNotes because it was annoying). Screen your calls as they come in. Don't EVER answer calls from people whose voices you don't recognize and who only put up a number and no name on Caller ID. If you do answer and it's a stranger asking you for money, HANG UP.
September 14, 2018
+14086342217 is the current scammer number for this pch grant.
September 27, 2018
On May 2nd of this year I received a call from a Mr.James Johnson claiming that I had won a 2018 Mercedes,$750000.00 USD cash and a check for $16.5 million CND.All I had to do was send 260.00to a Mr.Beechem Robbins in Lexington ,Kentucky to get my so called claimer`s receipt in order to get my package delivered.I asked for documents.He said that they had been mailed and the post office must have lost them.After two weeks of argumentation I decided to send the 260 to see what was going to happen.As you might expect there always was some other document required that was needed to get the package delivered.Things like tariffs,S&H and storage.All required a payment that started very high but after much argument they were reduced to say they had sponsors that would help me out and I could repay them when my package was delivered. I sent some money and finally on July 16th they were going to meet me at my bank at 2:30 with the prize package .When they did not show I phoned Mr.Johnson.He said he was at the Calgary airport but was having trouble.He did not have the decency to phone me to say the delivery would not be made. I let it go at that.The next morning he phoned to say that they needed another 6500.00 for an attorney stamp.I wanted him to meet me to prove that he actually was at there.Made all kinds of excuses as why he could not meet.The next morning I tried a new trick.He said he was staying at a safe house,so I asked him what the weather was doing.He told me it was sunny when in fact it was raining.I had been watching Calgary CTV and was on my laptop so knew he was not there.Since that day I have been dealing with him on a daily basis delaying sending any more money.He has come down to 325.00 now from the 6500 as he claims he has put in money as well as the so called sponsors. I am doing this as it is the only way I have of trying to punish him for what he did to me. There is a lot more to this story then meets the eye. At the time of his 1st call there were at least 8 personal things happening that had put me into a n extreme state of stress. I was vulnerable and was looking for help and really wanted this to happen.I had no one to turn to especially my wife who is 86 and it was her condition that put me over the top. In 2017 and January of this year I had calls from 3 other people claiming that I had won the exact same car,cash and various sums of money.Those callers received exactly zero dollars. I guess I was ripe for the picking when James called. My wish is that no one will fall for these endless scams.
September 16, 2018
A man called me several times from 876-390-3817 claiming he was with Publishers Clearinghouse. He said I won a million dollars and a new car. I had to get green dot money paks to take care of the "taxes". It is a big scam! Please do not fall for it.
September 18, 2018
Is there a Mr Cooper with PCH he allegedly claims my mom won something and someone else is going to call at a later date? Who is this joker? And is he affiliated with PCH or a scam artist? I look forward to a response
cat woman
September 27, 2018
I received a recorded message today saying PCH had been trying to contact me..I called their main number and asked if I had won anything .I was told 650,000 and talked to Oscar Mendez in prize payment dept. He said yes indeed ..verified I had won and asked me to fax him a bill and my photo ID verify myself and address. But no fees or money required this a scam? Am trying to find out..
FTC Staff
September 27, 2018

In reply to by cat woman

If you give someone your personal information they can use it for identity theft. They can open credit cards, or make identity cards with your picture and their information.

September 26, 2018
Say I won 5 millions dollars for me to send one thousand dollars and recieve ur money
October 01, 2018
I have probably sent back 15 envelopes and have ordered lots of things each time they keep saying I have one more step or that someone from this envelope is going to be a winner and I'll give me some names. So I keep paying monthly payments on my stuff how do I know if this is legit if it's real someone help me out please am I wasting my time and money on this buying their stuff. I mean I'm in this to win it but if it's a scam I need to quit sending the money for the products. Someone please help me and tell me if this is a scam I'm in
October 01, 2018
Thease are fake they made a page up don’t do this it’s a scam
October 01, 2018
I was scammed by these people just the other day. Was told I won 5.5million dollars and needed to send 400 to a Dianne May for a Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart and told the man I was a single mom with two kids and no job. I say I don't have 400 dollars, then he ask how much can u send. I said I could send 50dollars and he said that would be fine and they would take the rest would be took out the money. The man stayed on the phone with me for two hours. My mother told him she needed some confirmation that it was not a scam and he gave us a number to call and it was an automatic voice service saying it's was pch and he gave me an account number to enter to confirm. She entered the account number said my name and it said my name then said account balance was 5.5 million. The PCH number was 1-916-237-0204. We sent the money three hours later my mother googled PCH fraud and she then called the number on receipt and money hadn't been picked up so she called the fraud line and they sent thr money back to us. The man calls me that night to tell me my money and prize will be here Monday at 930am. I tell the man I done looked it up and it's all a scam. I told him all those 876 area code was fraud and the number he gave my mother she put it in Google and it's a scam. The dumb man still kept saying it's not a scam its real. I told him I got my money back and nobody else will get money in Dianne May name. The walmart people put a block on her name. I told him he should of been ashamed for using God to scam people out there money and he better get right with God. The man said when he first called he was a man of god and it was a blessing from up above. So I told him have a goodnight and hung up. The man just called me again and I picked up and said hello he then says so u don't want ur prize of 5.5million and ur 2018 Mercedes-Benz. I said U done told u that ur a scam and dont know why u keep on with it and he said this is real. I just hung up and blocked the numbers. That's just right crazy after i told him I got my money back and all those numbers was scam and that name was blocked but he still Called the next day. These people need to be stoped. I asked the walmart people when they come to pick it up will it show it was a fraud she said yes i said will they get in trouble she said no but I can't see how they can lie to people about winning money and not get in trouble. Fraud is fraud.
October 03, 2018
Is PCH the scammers in this or is it people using PCH to scam people ?
October 09, 2018
I just got a call from someone claiming to be from PCH. David Anderson. Could barely speak English. Sad. I wish I'd have won lol. But I'm like everyone else here, PCH is a scam in itself. No one ever wins.
October 09, 2018
Just got a call saying that I had won 3.5 million and 5000 a week for life also a 2017 mercedes convertible they needed 999.99 to be sent to the IRS to cover the registration fee so I could be tax free for 1 year.. I put them on speaker and found this site... I told them I would register after I received the check and it cleared...they were insistent that I go to the bank and get the money and go to the post office and send the check to the IRS... I told them this was a scam that I shouldn't have to pay to receive my winnings and told them goodbye...they called right back and still insisted that it was not a scam... I told them it sounded like they were in a huge Warehouse you could hear the echo in the background and hear people pounding and beating and doing some kind of construction in the background and I told them that I found this website and it said that I did not have to pay to collect any winnings and they hung right back up on me I noticed the call came from Jamaica
October 13, 2018
Because I thought the scam was real, because of the check that was included we got hit for a lot of money. Don't fall for the calls, fake mail, including checks and the so called honorable (scum-bags) people who want to causeyou problems.
October 17, 2018
I have received text from PCH saying I won $50,000 and a new Apple laptop. They first wanted $1,500 filing fee and then wanted $5,000 InOrder to get funds released from IRS. Then they kept reducing it to $1000. They never got a cent from me.
Don't use your…
October 22, 2018
I got a message from my " brother" stating he had just gotten a grant from PCH. He sent me the link. I applied and was " approved". All I had to do was send them CASH. That is when I got really suspicious. Glad I checked or I would have been out $2,000. They have a convincing pitch. But the messages were a bit off. And I never send cash through the mail.
October 24, 2018
I got a letter in the mail for PCH asking me to call a number to provide them with and id number and then to verify my address stating that my name is now in a group that "COULD" be a winner. Has anyone else ever gotten anything like this and is it real or a scam?
October 27, 2018
I have received notices on FB message from friends saying they had won a prize ad saw my name there too. Said I would have to buy a Amazon card and send it to someone ??. I contacted them and they said no they hadn't someone had hacked their FB account and was using their picture. It happened twice to one of my friends. I didn't do it of course.
PCH scam by sn…
October 29, 2018
My 86 year old received a letter by U.S. postal service from an Ontario Canada return address complete with Canadian stamp. The confidential PCH prize letter came with a check enclosed for $8498.55 drawn on Comerica Bank using Welker Bros. 970 S. Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035 which I looked up and is a flooring company in California and the address matches the info on the website. The letter directs to call 1-646-355-3108 and speak to claims agent John Anderson. This letter says by law, we are to pay towards taxes, handling and processing fees. The enclosed check was to assist with out of pocket expenses. We are to keep the letter strictly confidential until our cash prize winnings has been processed and remitted to our designated account. Signed Deborah Holland, Exec. V.P.. The check is signed by Michael Chapman (dot laser printer). Thank goodness my Dad and brother showed it to me before doing anything with it. These crooks make things look pretty authentic and old folks would fall for it, but I saw the red flags. I copied the check and 'void' does come through but the acct., routing and check numbers are mixed up on the bottom. Be careful folks.
November 02, 2018
I feel like it's a scam too I've never seen anyone younger when it's always people in there 50-60s and never really surprised like if I won 2500 a week for life I would be crying and screaming you never here from these people or anything but then again they could just be in hiding i guess
November 03, 2018
My grandma got a call saying she won money and a car, and to collect it, she was told to meet someone at Walmart and bring $99 with her for a deposit, then they were going to bring the car and cash to her house. Then the guy stated that he also knew her name and address. After that she said she wasn’t interested and hung up, but he called back at least 5 times. I told her next time to call and report it to the police, and not to answer numbers that she doesn’t know because scam callers are getting more and more common.
November 03, 2018
I got a text about a grant I could get but had to pay $600 for fees and processing. I knew it sounded fishy and the guy was very pushy. I didn't send it but still have the texts if you want them. I also wad asked for my FB info and now got an email that someitried to add an email address to my account. So I changed my password and blocked that email address. Please let me know what else I can do so you can catch this guy. Thank you Laura
November 05, 2018
I've been entering the PCH giveaways for four DECADES. In the beginning, I spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on magazine subscriptions. I licked stamps, I initialed documents, all for nothing. Now, it's emails, scratch off cards, and endless entries. They ALL say 'No Purchase Necessary To Win', but they keep shaming, because I'm NOT buying their overpriced trinkets, or magazines, at all. Four DECADES of entering, you'd THINK I would have won SOMETHING by now. So, even though I waste my time winning tokens, instead of cold hard cash, I'm going to continue thinking it's a 65 year old scheme, sham, and scam.
Don't use your…
November 07, 2018
One name appeared as an agent William David and a phone number 1-623 469 1620 was given to call indicating to me that I won some money and I have to fill out an application. Kindly look into same as one of my Friend's name was used to contact me.
September 17, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

I just received something of almost the same that you did. Through a friend asking me to fill out application with mother's name, my full name, address, phone number and my worth..this has to be a scam ..said agent Alex benson
November 27, 2018
Just got 3 calls back to back saying I have won $5000.00 per week for 25 years. Another scam asking for $295.95 in fees. Knew it was a lie because I he never won anything.
November 29, 2018
An acquaintance told me she was given 110,000 from PCH mega bonus, with a grant. Gave me the number to call to get entered. I did cause trusted her. They just wanted basic info to see if qualified for grant. I did. So they sent all important numbers I was to need when money delivered, 90,000.00 was to be mine. If, gave them 450.00 before money delivered. Either western union, money gram or google play gift card. Red light! The aquatance told me she paid with money gram and got her cash delivered to door. Cash, mind you! Sounded hinky to me. When told agent thru text that had no transportation till weekend, they kept telling me could get gift card at any store. NO TRANSPO! SOUNDED LIKE BIG SCAM! Not buying it. Text "friend", she said did get money. Still don't buy it. That's lot money just to deliver money. She says legit. ????
FTC Staff
November 29, 2018

In reply to by Dale

This sounds like a scam. When someone asks you to send money before you get money, that's the first sign of a scam. Asking you to pay with a wire transfer or gift card is another sign of a scam.

Don't transfer money or send a gift card to the scammers. You'll lose the money, and you won't get anything in return.


December 04, 2018
I received a call and they stated I had won 2.5mil and a car. When they asked for me to have taxes paid in advance, I hung up. The call came from Jamaica (876) 829-6939. I asked if this was a hoax and I was assured it was not. When they asked me to have a government check for taxes in the amount of $725.32, I knew it was not legitimate. How can we stop these people from calling our numbers?
December 05, 2018
a man called to tell me I had won $7 mil publisher's clearing house and a new cadillac. All I needed to do is send a money order for $499 and they would deliver the check. I advised him to get a better job than these scams. A few hours later he called and left a voice mail that he was going to book a plane ticket and kidnap my family and hold them as hostages unless I called him and paid. I've recorded all the calls. After the violence extortion threat, I reported to police.
April 02, 2019
Know what you mean I have gotten the same is messed up.
December 13, 2018
I have you all beat. They have been bugging me for over five years. Sometimes up to five calls a day . Sure is annoying. Especially when you have a disability and it takes a while to get to the phone. My calls originate from Jamaca. I wish I could get it stopped. Have tried everything. Calls start at 5AM. We just turn off the phone when we go to bed. They say I have won 5 million dollars plus 5 thousand a week for life and a car. All I have to do is send $380 to the IRS. I should be so stupid.
December 14, 2018
I have been told by a lawyer named Attorney Fox from California,he told me I have won 1.6 million dollars from PCH, he has send me a check for $40,000 from Oregon to pay the taxes on the winnings, the check cleared my bank, he has asked me to withdrawn $15,000 in cash, after I do I have to call him, then he will tell me how to pay the taxes, is this proper procedure of PCH ? Thomas
FTC Staff
December 14, 2018

In reply to by andersont92

This sounds like a scam.

This is what Publishers Clearing House says about its prizes:

Only PCH is authorized to notify you of a win from a PCH giveaway. There are never any strings attached to winning a Publishers Clearing House prize. We do not ask for bank account information. There is no processing fee, tax or special handling charge required to win and our prizes are delivered free of charge to the winners.


When someone sends you a check, and says to withdraw money right away and send it to them or another person, that's a sign of a scam. By law, banks must give you some funds from a check you deposit within a few days, but it can take weeks to uncover a fake check. At first, it might seem like a check is good. But if you take money out right away, and the check later turns out to be fake, you will lose money. You must repay the bank all the money you withdrew.

December 27, 2018
Received a call from an "agent" from PCH. Gave me a name and badge #. Said I won $5,000,000 and a 2019 Mercedes plus $5,000 a week for life. I would receive a bonus of $18,000 delivered in a white briefcase. Transferred me to a supervisor who wanted me to choose a delivery method, $799 for private delivery or $499 for public delivery. Told them to take it out of the $18,000 . They said they could not legally touch the prize money. I hung up and called law enforcement and contacted PCH via email and filled out a scam report.
December 28, 2018
Just received a call from a New York Number, (914) 502-3984 at 4:45 AM. They were going to have someone escort me to a Walmart where I would wire them funds to cover the taxes on my $1.8M winnings.
January 10, 2019
I am receiving calls right now from a man saying he is a manager for distribution of checks for a special FAN giveaway for Christmas Bonus. Of course Christmas has come and gone and he is still messaging me wanting more funds, he convinced me to give him $1,400 in Amazon Gift Cards. Delivery fees, insurance he still is looking for another $200. He told me it was delayed because delivery people were off on the holidays. I feel he has stolen the identity of a employee that actually works PCH. I have a name , but I am not sure to post it here now. I have mentioned the rules in place to not send money and he convinced me to. A very good con-man. I was scammed in August 2018 and he knew about this that is why I trusted that he was really a employee.
January 11, 2019
Just got one of those PCH scam calls. Claiming I won !million plus new mercedes benz. Said he was David Green- the delivery driver. When asked about independently verification he gave me the name of Mark Henderson (516) 441-8449 (ext 5). I'm not calling but wanted to add info the the details of the scams.
January 12, 2019
Jan 11, 2019 .. call from someone stating I won prize with Publishers .. I've never even entered ! this guy had an answer for everything .. talk about a smooth talking SOB ... I knew it was a scam but I wanted to hear "the story" .. ! finally he asked for 10% of the prize value!!!!!! I told him what I thought of him before I hung up !!
January 15, 2019
For the 40 years I've known about PCH I have personally known many people who bought their products and continually entered and re-entered their contests and them swear someone in this area was going to win a big cash prize but in 40 years I have never seen anyone anywhere remotely close to our area win so much as even a cookbook,so,yes they are scammers in a big way. They may give something away but it is very seldom and usually not worth the time and money people put into their corporation and products that they push but"You don't have to buy to enter and win" If it sounds to good to be true it's usually a lie.Sad but true.
February 05, 2019
I receive a call that I won 1.9 million and a mercedez also 5000 for life, but I need it to send 4995 Cash to an address in Illinois 120 S Charles St, Lenzburg, IL 62255
Kill'em all.
February 08, 2019
Another scam that is directed at senior citizens is hearing aids.
June 14, 2019
I just got a PCH scam email. Here’s the body of the email. Says it’s from HELLO! PCH Congratulation on (winning) 850,000.00 USD in our 2019 PCH (Lotto) Kindly send your contacts Email: pch_ remittance_ officer @ *Given Names: *Mailing Address: *Telephone: *Gender: *Age: Kristin Cooke Official Notification ---------------------------------------------- © Copyright 2019 Publishers Clearing House All Rights Reserved
Brad Bardwell
February 13, 2019
My parents have been working with these crooks for the past four weeks and they lost $48,000 by the time my sister and I found out. My parents are embarrassed and ashamed they allowed this to happen. My sister and I are mad and wanting to find the scum that scammed our parents. Does anyone out there know of a way to get someone to pursue these people in Jamaica? I doubt we will ever see the money my parents lost, but I would like to speak with someone representing the thousands of people in the US targeted by these sick individuals.
February 18, 2019
Can ANYONE tell me who actually has won
February 18, 2019
I got the same phone call today Feb 18th. 2019 I won 2.85 million, the Mercedes, shopping till I drop at Wallmart or something, insurance from Geico for the car, Allstate free road assistance, the give away was they explained that if I got pulled over all I had to do was call Allstate and they would take care of it, and free gas from Shell. All I had to do was go to Wall mart or somewhere that I could get money to send for the taxes they said would be 1% or $480. They wanted me to run right out to my car and they would talk me through the process.