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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.

August 21, 2019
Someone by the name Of Andrew Goldberg and Bobby Jones keep contacting me telling me I’m the mega grand prize winner, and I have to pay $500, then almost $35,000 to claim my prize. The number for Bobby Jones is 347-736-1225. The Goldberg guy keeps pm’ing me. Then when I tell them I don’t have the money, they threaten to give it to somebody else or charity. I despise people like this.
September 06, 2019
The caller will use a restricted number. That is the reason why a number can be traced.
Don't use your…
August 24, 2019
My husband received a letter saying he won 1000 dollars . The letter didn't ask for money up front and they wanted my husband to get a letter notarized then send back to PCH. My husband made a crucial mistake he gave them his social security # I hope it doesn't back fire . Today he called PCH and explained everything to them and the told him he's been scammed .
Mitchell 500
August 25, 2019
this number that I have used false pictures from Publisher Clearing House here is their phone number 281 624 6685 they just got $100 out of me they use pictures that are real from Publishers Clearing House but they are false I hope you catch them and put them in jail another number they gave me from FedEx 407 337 6685 please arrest them and put them in jail they have legitimate pictures of people who won and they make up pictures a people who are going to be winners please put them in jail for the rest of your life
Don't use your…
August 27, 2019
I got a prompt to wave to a woman on messenger. I have items on Facebook Market I didn’t think anything of it, so I waved. The next day the woman responded saying she was an agent with PCH. Long story short...she told me I won $800,000. and asked if I wanted to claim it. At that point I became fearful and blocked her. I doubt seriously that PCH notifies winners in that way. Thankfully I didn’t give anything but my name. She addressed me by my nickname; I didn’t tell her that. can’t be too careful nowadays.
August 30, 2019
Well i been playing for 28 years and got nothing and i don't think iys real and i fell for scammer to i know mow
August 30, 2019
Crazy question do u I need to buy Amazon gift cards to cover the publisher clearing house fees to get my so called winnings? To me it doesn't make any since to have to cover that this true....?
FTC Staff
September 06, 2019

In reply to by Duke7148

If you have to pay to get the prize, it’s a scam. Never send money to collect a prize, sweepstakes check, or lottery winnings.

April 26, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

Iamdanielle931 from PCH is saying I won 1million and 7,000 a week but by law I need to show registered& completed 1% state to state tax change to cover shipping & handling expense. Can complete at any outlet. Instagram won't stop. So this is a scam rite? And prizewinners_2020 and claiming_winning_money_. So they r all scams?
September 03, 2019
I received notice that I had won 250,000 dollars from PCH,and too verify my name and address.10 to twelve days later,I received a check for some 2700 dollar.It really looked legit,but when I attempted to cash it.I was informed that the check was counterfeit.Since then I've worried if their maybe legal ramifications ???
David Alphonse
September 07, 2019
I received a message from a friend on Facebook messenger. Some how they tapped into her messenger acct on FB and pretended to be her. Conversation: I saw your name on PCH on T.V. it said to give a call to pch #. They give me phone# to call. No one answers but I left message. A close friend of mine told me I won the PCH sweepstakes I'm calling to collect my winnings, left my phone number. Within minutes I was receiving a text message from 407 area code out of Orlando Florida. They asked for address, age, marital status, income per month, my bank, occupation, mothers full name, everything but my account numbers. Then they asked me to pick a winning prize but to choose carefully. I told them 150,000 they said they need $1,500 for delivery fee. (Of course this is what they told me through my friends messenger acct. On FB pretending to be her, don't forget she also won and topped me off to begin with )!!! LOL Next they are asking me to go to Walmart and send the delivery fee of $1,500 (remember I'm in Clearwater they're in Orlando ) so this is an instate job. Anyway they also sent me an authentic batch of batch numbers, a ticket prize number, very professional and realistic! Now they want me to go to Walmart....I explained I didn't have the cash readily available, they said I can choose a smaller prize and the deliver fee would be less? They even said a couple hundred down would hold my spot and they would be waiting. They even actually asked me how long I have been at my bank and they could possibly give me a loan?? At that time I ceased all communication and didn't receive any more text messages from them. I Think they knew I was on to them also I looked up PCH 'S Protocol on people winning prize money? PCH never asks for delivery fees to deliver prize monies!! After I stopped texting to them they also stopped texting me.. I'm still calling my bank to let them know what happened and explain the information they asked for, like I said just about everything but passwords and acct numbers...still I think it's good to notify bank!!!
September 08, 2019
I got an instant message on messenger pretending to be my friend and she won 250000 and when they delivered her money my name was on the list and I should contact them. Maybe I should have help me do it. She would not do any of this. I contacted her son to check her account
September 23, 2019
((C.W).Your Cell# Has won $1,000,000.) Please SEND: 113084 to- claim @ cwnnl. , to process. Just recieved this msg as of today.
September 16, 2019
My dad has been sending them back since I was a little girl. I'm 53. He even buys merchandise sometimes and has never won a penny. SMH
September 23, 2019
One just called me from an unknown number saying I won’t 5 million and a brand new car then told me to call me this number 9162370204 and give them this code lol be careful guys
Dumped on
September 29, 2019
I got a call from Daniel E. Levi of New York stating I won 1.2 million and a Benz. I fell hook line and sinker for it...lost all my savings ...They got me at the right time..husband with Mental illness And in poor health, sister with cancer in hospital having chemotherapy and all the bills for medications and doctors @ my door.. I thought wow Someone upstairs is watching over me!..The man was from PCH And was so convincingly good, Now I don’t even have enough money to go and be with my sister, or even give my portion of tithing to my church like I do each month..It is so sad that they can pull the wool over elderly peoples eyes. Guess I will just have to forgive them as our Heavenly Father has said. I cry a lot and feel like such a failure, The # 516-217-7767 and415-900-2209..Been a hard road to learn on..None of my family members know how much I spent in the hard knocks of life.
September 30, 2019
I just got a call from PCH on the caller i.d. 1-631-912-4078. I haven't entered Publisher's Clearing House in over 30 years! Scam for sure!
October 01, 2019
Got a message from a family member telling me that I won $150,000 the phone number is 15592398099 they tell me that I have to pay $150 for shipping and handling to receive $150,000 check to be delivered to my doorstep I've never heard of half the pay shipping and handling before with all these scams out there they have been sending me pictures of the packing Department and pictures of some winners I just don't know for sure I don't thank you supposed to pay $150 for shipping and handling I thought it supposed to be free it just didn't make sense to me your mama said I don't make sense that normally is supposed to be free that he's a mail you a letter are come to your doorstep Rochester phone number a family member in California yeah they did leave a voicemail are a text message it just sounded a little fishy to me so I'm sending you this message say what you think
Nobody's Fool
October 01, 2019
I got a phone message supposedly from PCH saying I'd won over $9,000,000. The call-back number is 808-600-6070 - which I think is a spoofed number. Beware, folks!
October 10, 2019
I have received three calks this month alone, one from a guy with an Indian accent who said jis name was Andrew Goldberg (!), telling me I won a prize. Please confirm that this is a fraud. How do they get my name ? Thank you.
October 16, 2019
They got $90,000 from my elderly mother by this scam. She wanted so much to help out the family. Now she lost everything. These people are animals. She was so upset she is suicidal.
October 22, 2019
My Mom was receiving calls almost everyday from people claiming to be from Publisher's Clearinghouse. The calls originated from Kingston, Jamaica and the accents are undeniable. I asked them to remove our number from their list but they continued to keep calling. My mother passed away almost a year ago and I spoke with them again not long after back in Dec/Jan and informed them of her passing. That stopped it for a bit but they little by little started the calls again. It is now almost a year, she passed Oct 30, 2018, and they are still calling. Normally I don't bother to answer the phone but when I see a number with that area code from Jamaica, I block it. They call from other numbers as well, all with different area codes and also toll free numbers. When they leave messages from these numbers, I collect them and block them as well. I just talked to two of these people this morning to again get the number removed and I got major attitude from one and the other just hung up on me. The one with the attitude claims to have been speaking with my Mom to which I informed him that was impossible with her being deceased going on a year. He says,"So, I've been talking to a ghost?" I said,"I guess so but there's no way you've spoken with her over this past year." Anyway, I'm blocking these numbers two. I need to report these number to ti someone that takes care if these types of fraud situations. Ant advuce would help. Thanks in advance.
DonLadybug't u…
October 22, 2019
I have had somone try to scam me twice today. One used an Alias name using one of my Facebook friends name. He was trying to get me to collect government money. The second person said she was Danielle lampchteam and I won money and a car. She needed my cell phone number and address. PCH has my information.
October 22, 2019
I just had a call from Jamaica claiming that I won 2.5 million dollars and a brand new 2019 Chevy Malibu from PCH, said they would be at my house on Friday to make the public notice, and give me my prizes, things seemed legit till he said I would need to 896$ for my claims receipt. I knew it was scam but thought if I could keep them on the phone it was one less person they could call who maybe not as suspicious as I am. If you win something you do not need to pay for it out of pocket to recieve it that is what taxes are for and normally come out of your winnings
October 23, 2019
Unreal. "David Miller" just called, with an ID# of 187605, and my number of R0058 and said I had won $5M. I said PCB did not all people and hung up. They tried 1 more call.
October 24, 2019
I got home from work last night and encountered a rather excited husband who informed me that he had gotten several calls from PCH (785-284-5914 and 876-290-6984) stating that he had won the "second prize" of $750,000 plus a new Mercedes. I was immediately skeptical, but he was convinced that it was legitimate. Fortunately, he hadn't given them any personal information or agreed to send them any money. When I got online later in the evening, I checked on the procedure for receiving notification of winnings from PCH and discovered that not only do they never contact winners by phone or email, but also that they don't have a "second prize" winner--ever. Since he did call "PCH" back on both numbers, I discovered that the 876 number is based in Jamaica, so, of course, we are liable for phone charges for international calls. I estimate that it will be around $40 or $50--not too bad, but we're on a tight budget and this will sting a bit.
October 25, 2019
My husband and I received a call on October 24th from a very heavily, non-american accented man who said we had won the 2nd prize in the Clearing House Giveaway. (Not sure if he mentioned "Publishers Clearing House", but that is what he alluded to). He NEVER asked for $ to be paid, but said that next Monday between 9 - 11 am, they would be delivering via a courier service, he named: Global Security Express, (which I googled, and never found any US company like this) a check for $500,000. We were both skeptical, of course, but were and are concerned about the "scam". He did point out that the IRS will want "their cut", and we assume, IF someone arrives on Monday, that they will want us to pay them the 42% taxes on the spot. Then, he transferred us to an International Tax Accountant in his office, a heavily non- american accented woman, who confirmed the above, but when my husband mentioned, we understand the taxes and IRS, as I am a CPA, she didn't stay on the phone long. The first man said he was John Callahan, an intern in the Law Firm of : Collin, Meyers & Associates of Boston, MA. We couldn't find anything like then via Google. The woman said her name was: Anna Lewinsky. We were wondering if this is a scam, what are they trying to get from us, unless, it is as I mentioned above.... Monday, when they have this "certified check", they will want us to pay the taxes on the spot. We don't intend to, that is for sure, and don't expect a visit, Monday, either. WE will see.
October 30, 2019
I was randomly contacted by sosmeone that sent a friend request mentioning to me information about a attorney named Robert helping individuals receive ,62,000
Chamile Eva
October 30, 2019
Facebook scam I’ve got pictures of all correspondence But don’t know how to upload
November 04, 2019
Just got a letter from Jimmy Jarrell claiming i have to claim funds from someone that died and I would get the funds bc we have the same last name. Scam right?
December 05, 2019

In reply to by cathycamp1568

I received same letter yesterday.. Definitely a scam. Notice the different emails, etc. Not to mention how eager this person is to "work on the inside to provide all the evidence needed" to prove you're a relative.. and in my case... there is no way.. my surname belongs to husband, not me! BEWARE!
February 14, 2020

In reply to by cathycamp1568

Yes it is a scam. We received the exact same letter with the same persons name. Scam, Scam ####
November 06, 2019
I just found out today my mother got scammed out of 7 grand and has been taking out loans behind my fathers back. Now the house payment check is bouncing. What can I do?
November 07, 2019
Very similar as other comments, but I received a call this morning indicating I was chosen as the PCH winner of $2.5MM and the PCH prize team were on standby to deliver my prize and I was to notify them when I would be available to receive the prize. I was suspicious so asked them what my address was and I was told only the driver had that information. He asked that I call him back - Michael Baker @ (315)494-0681 to let him know when I was 15 minutes away. I was still very suspicious but called to tell him I was 15 minutes away (when I wasn't) and he proceeded to tell me that the State would require the consumer to purchase fraud protection in advance of the prize delivery. Of course, I asked in what form of payment it was required and to whom and he told me he couldn't release that information until I was at the bank and he was required to stay on (the recorded) line until I went to the bank. At that point, I decided to play along and ask if I chose to pay in cash, could I just take it to my house to meet the prize delivery team there, and he said it would have to be deposited. Again, playing along, I asked for the name and account information to deposit it, and he told me he couldn't provide that until I was at the bank. I asked "again, what regulation requires this fraud protection" and he said, "the state that you reside in". When I asked what state that was, he couldn't answer...and at this point, he began getting frustrated with my questioning so I kept going to say I was going to call my attorney to confirm that this was required by law. He got very flustered, told me he is a Christian man who would never pull my leg or do anything to try to take my hard earned money, etc. I thanked him and told him I would be back in touch. sad how many people fall for such scams
Tammy C
December 17, 2019

In reply to by Carol

Just got the same call. I'm supposed to call Michael Baker at the same number. Thanks for posting. I won't be wasting my time.
November 07, 2019
I received one today wanting me to get 5 steam card at 3 different locations which comes $1500. I told them that I will report them and block them. If I won anything i would not have to pay for it.
November 09, 2019
So much is on the news about scams and online not to fall for what you may think is Free money. Why? Why is it so hard for people to understand that if it sounds to good to be true, its NOT! Talk about it to your family and friends and most importantly to the law before making any kind of decision
November 15, 2019
We get the call now saying we've won money AND a car and they want to arrange a time that would be convenient to come to our house and deliver it.
Fake Check
November 15, 2019
I received a check for $4980.00 and a letter supposedly from Publishers Clearing House and phone number to call before cashing the check. They wanted to have me send money to cover federal taxes. Of course this was a scam. I get phone calls daily telling me I have won some lottery or contest which I never entered. I have stopped answering calls when I do not know the number.
Carolyn Ballard
November 18, 2019
I just recently was given a case number and told I would receive $5,000 for life and a 2019 Mercedes. All I had to do was look on the back of a $1 bill and look at the seal. Then I must pay $2,500 to get the gold seal for the check. They used Publisher Clearing House name and they are repeatedly calling. I am reporting this to you, the FTC because they said they were approved by you. Sad, sad, sad!!!!!
November 21, 2019
They're all over Twitter now received this message last night at 8:26pm from a Dave Sayer,... Well congrats!! You have been randomly selected by our generated computer system to receive $5 Million Dollars and also 10,000 Weekly For life!! Provide me with your Full Name, Full Address and Contact Number for verification purposes!! Then this at 6:09am today,...Yes we are doing legitimate business here at the PCH. At 6:52am,...Do you have your US PCH Claimers card registered in your name?? At 7:02am,... Hello; at 7:04am,...Are you there?; At 7:41am,...Are you interest to received your prize??; At 752am,...Listen are you taking this for a joke right?; At 7:45am,...Hello. Are you there??? Listen we are not forcing you to receive $5 million all we need to do just indicate to the Higher Authority if what's taking place and give your delivery to someone who wants it. Thanks you.; And at 7:48am,...Now as you could see for yourself you're being contacted regularly by persons claiming to be us that should show you that you're actually a winner or else you wouldn't be getting so much calls. Now the thing is that some person are trying as well to impersonate us, they all know are a grand prize winner. Some are trying to steal your prize from you, some are trying to know if you received your prizes as yet to scam you and I don't want any of our descent American Citizens to be a victim do you understand?. They are steady trying to call me from (585)430-7647, even right now as I am trying to write this comment
November 25, 2019
These people are really terrible. First they called my husband at work. Said it was a raffle based on phone number. He never entered. John Peterson said my husband said to call me. I did verify with hubby that they had called and then "pch" called back. Then he puts me on the phone with a lawyer named Mary Lee who gives me all this information to give to the "prize patrol". File numbers, package serial numbers, confirmation numbers, bar code numbers. All sounds maybe legit, though I am a see it to believe it person, until you have to pay for a Federal Registration Receipt so that your name can be printed on the check. $485 to be exact. So I gave away $5,000,000 and a cherry red mercedes today because feeding my family is more important. And FYI, I actually did win $10 last month from the real Publisher's Clearing House. An actual check that cleared the bank. What an absolute waste of my time.
November 26, 2019
Just received a call from someone, 876-416-1214, telling me I'd won and that the prize patrol was on the way. I played along until he started talking about getting a 'claim card'... From the actors portrayals on TV, it's supposed to be like they show up at your door unannounced to get that super surprised look. The english was spoken so woodenly, he was desperately trying to hide an accent.
November 30, 2019
Received a letter saying we could get 10.6 million as we have the same last name as a deceased winner that never claimed his prize. What’s the best way to report, as I’m sure it’s a scam! They didn’t ask for $ YET but they give an email address to contact for more details.
December 02, 2019
My mom received a msg through Facebook messenger from a friend claiming she won a 100000 and that she males it in to someone lady that gave her a bunch of numbers but I also wanted hurt my mom to pay $300 I told my mom it's a fraud it's a scam but she doesn't want to believe me
December 05, 2019
They contacted me looking for my info to send me the money. They asked for everything short of my social security number. And was completely clueless, never signed up for the sweepstakes. They asked for my maiden name for my mom and I lots of other info which I found very odd. Including my income. I found it very fishy. Glad I didn't bite.....
December 23, 2019
I got a call today just like these people did. I was told to call 405-900-9297. Ask for Mr. Goldberg. Same scam. First they called my husband on his work cell phone.
December 27, 2019
I got a call saying i won 455.000 from he said publishers clearing house and if i wanted the balloons and champagne i said no i didn't want that kind of commotion on the block they confirmed my address i was so happy,then different reps kept calling from Florida,jamaica etc finally i was to send 600.000 thru a western union of there choice for tax purposes so they can release the check to me I told the man do me a favor pay the 600 for me and when I get the money I will give you 5,000 for doing me that favor He started to laugh and hung up and never called back
Sandra Deubler
January 02, 2020
I was contacted and texted that I won on December 31 2019 the Winner they asked if I want to be public or private when I said public They sent me a code they said to enter it was from Facebook look alright. Then in my face hacked my FB account and changed all my information said it was security .... I still do not have my FB account back and my business page on Facebook but have the hackers email and phone # it was done in my face ... FB has not let me back into my account and its been down almost 2 months ... My family photo for over 13 years and My work page Realtor and locked me out ! I want my FB account back not making a new one I will fight it till it's fixed !! Scammer using PCH !!
January 06, 2020
I love in the UK. Yesterday I received a message via Facebook Messenger from a friend of mine asking me how I was doing. I had no reason to believe it was anybody other than my friend. I replied asking a few personal questions as we hadn't spoken for a while. The reply did not contain any replies to my personal comments but in badly worded English asked me if I had received my Mega Bonus yet. In asking what this was my "friend" informed me again in badly worded English that she had won £100,000 and that my name was also on the list. She sent me a link to the Agent (Brenda Simpson) also on Facebook Messenger. At that point I did not believe I was in contact with my friend and contacted her by other means to alert her. She confirmed she had not been messaging me, nor had won any money. I terminated the messaging at that point. However I was messaged again later by "my friend" and Brenda Simpson asking if I was ready to claim. I informed them that I knew they were scammers and that I had reported them to Facebook. I have now blocked them. I have no idea why or how they used my friend to get to me. Please beware everyone as these people will do anything to scam you.