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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.

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  • 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

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November 17, 2020
Robo-call from 202-241-3601 with “prize code” & directions to call “Claims Agent David Anderson” to collect prize from local area “Claims Office”. Elderly person called & gave address, phone & a few personal details but MadKid4 yelling in background maybe spooked the scammer & they hung up.
November 18, 2020
Got a call from 866-238-7972. Recording said I was 2nd place winner in PCH sweepstakes. Amazing because I haaven't entered PCH for over 25 yrs. (I wonder if they compound interest?) The machine answered and recorded their recording, with pauses for name inserts. It went something like this. "Congratulations. You are the 2nd place winner in .... the $2 million,.. $500 thousand dollar .... Publishers Clearing House .... Sweepstakes. To claim your winnings, call your agent... Andrew.. Goldberg... 866-238-7972, extension 101. Thank you and have a blessed day."
Bonsai Tree
November 21, 2020
So there seems to be a new scam that they are using on FaceBook. They message you with an account with the name of someone you know (friends list). Who tells you to contact an agent via Messenger. The agent will ask you for information to fill out a form to apply, but doesn't have a form to send to you. You answer the questions via messenger. Then they want a picture of your drivers License. Bingo! It's a phishing scam to get your personal information and open up a credit card account or other using it. I went to the point of giving them information they can find online already but the License was the closer, and I cut off communication after that. The "Agent" I talked to call herself L. Roberts, but I doubt that's here real name.
Not interested
November 24, 2020
I just received a call from 8767216676 n said tgey was coming with my prize lol n to call dave sawyers at 8764632616 ext 5 to claim prize package #J7027220154 ...what a joke
November 24, 2020
I just got scammed on a PCH. Number called from 1-876-375-7083 Kingston Jm. Claimed won BMW from Germany, $5000 for 6months, $1.5 million Did not ask for money. Said taxes are already paid. Got only address.
December 01, 2020
An 876-777-7345 number calling from "Global International," a company "sponsored by Publishers Clearing House" according to the scammer, claimed my father won a Mercedes. He was asked to send a gift card worth $350 for fees, but thankfully realized it was a scam.
December 04, 2020
So my friend tells me they give an hundred thousand grant to people and so I texted a number and everything seemed fine until they asked for 1000 since there is taxes involved but and since I live in Canada this all seems wierd can someone tell me if they actually do this?
Hate Scammers
December 08, 2020
Number I was told to call is: 4063938226 talk with al Burgeon extension 7. Truck driver name: Michael. Said he was 45 min out, couldn't tell me where he was, or where I was located., derp.
Not Amused
December 09, 2020
Received a call from 876-995-5778 stating that I won a partial prize with the Publishers Clearing House, a foreign accent was trying guess where I was located, thankfully I live in the suburbs, and the heavy accent foreigner sent me to his so called manage (Michael Goldberg) he congratulated me and continued to guess where I was from and when I asked for a tracking number to contact the local office, he hung up on me. He did give me a second number to call, 1-876-854-3332. I hate that I missed out on the partial prize of $950,000 and a new Truck.
December 11, 2020
I received a call from a Jamaican number. Man said his name was David Moore and that I won the PCH 2nd place prize of $750,000 and a 2020 GMC truck. The prize patrol would even meet me at the police department. I only had to get a One Vanilla card for $500 and meet a lady named Mary Johnson the PCH lawyer to verify it with the bank and they would even have police escorts escort me to my bank of choice to deposit the winnings. I was told to call him back once I went and got the $500 card and he would then inform me how far away the prize patrol team was as they had already left to head my way. I played along (not giving out any information) just to see what he was going to do.
Non stop scammers
December 20, 2020
3852845689 - PCH robo recording scammer. But not very good at it, we could hear him calling other people with the same robocaller in the back ground, along with someone doing dishes. What idiots.
December 27, 2020
I received a call from someone claiming to be Andrew Goldberg and that I won publisher’s clearing house. Just need to get a claim declaration card. Meaning a gift card with $355 loaded on it. So they could delivery my prize tomorrow.
January 15, 2021
Got mailing and a check for 6769.25. your told not to call anyone 3rd party just call their number and give them the security code. The check is for taxes and lawyer fees it says. The pch website says they dont do any of those things. All information they send is by certified mail, fedx, ups special. At no time do they ask for taxes or layer fees
January 16, 2021
We received a phone call today on our home phone number. It sounded like a very good recorded voice msg stating clearly that we had won a publishers clearing house prize and to call 516.259.4529. Left msg on ans machine. Not one minute later on my cell phone I received an "anonymous" call but they hung up. I'm certain it was the same scammers. We just wish these people would get a conscience and stop trying to rob people of their savings.
January 20, 2021
They call sound polite in a calm and soft tone says you have won millions of dollars and a car stating calling from Australia with # 727 335 7534 His name as Mr. Michael Johnson ask you for a security question only you will know just incase the call gets cut off. They aske for address proper spelling of your name and email address to send you information. I call publisher to find out it is a scam they never call about your winnings.
Mickie mouse
January 21, 2021
Is the PCH a scam or are they legitimate? If they are a scam why isn't anyone doing anything?
February 02, 2021
I just got a call, same as others. Number from Jamaica, I won $2.5 million, prize patrol on its way. Weird thing is, he never asked for money, but said a lawyer would be with the prize patrol to help me with the fees. I didn't give them any information at all, I really hope these crazy people don't show up at my house.
February 05, 2021
My mom just received a call from john Peterson, supposedly from publishing clearinghouse. The caller I'd said Kingston, Jamaica. They said the prize people were 25 miles away, and coming. But before they come,she needed to pay for something. He said go get a $50 vanallia gift card, and he would stay on the line. I was luckily there, and talk some sense into her. She hung up on him.
February 08, 2021
Well just today I received two calls the first I won 7m and Mercedes-Benz the second 2.5m and a Mercedes-Benz. The last guy will call me back in about an hour after I get $500 gift card to use for confirmation number. I get these calls a lot. I guess they are just people trying to make a living. What a shame!!
February 17, 2021

In reply to by Timelessbluerose

"Carlos Salvador" called this morning, claming to be from PCH. He knew our names and address. He said we won $2.5M and a car. He said it was a "seniors promotion." Told us to get a gift card to cover 1% of taxes. I told him it was a scam and not to call back. Caller ID was 876-410-0937.
Lima V.
February 22, 2021
I was contacted by PCH, Daniel Williamson, wants me to send my picture of ID for taxes. His number is 9142499215. 3
Bill Jones
February 26, 2021
Received a call today and was told I had a check and a car being delivered in an hour. They could only tell me the state I lived in not the city. they wanted to call a Mr. Albert Johnson at 320-301-7708. After the third time I received a call from this (truck driver) I told him he was a scam and was all over the internet and I received a big FU from him.
your e-mail address
March 04, 2021
Just got a call from Publisher’s Clearinghouse I have won 250 million, I am to call this other number to confirm. JM Kingston 876-512-0515 is who called me and said call 1-866-296-5521. I have not had any contact with them for 3 years when I did the sweepstakes. I am pretty sure this is a scam
March 08, 2021
Do the government up hold PCH of fraud because I'm always reading PCH dealing with fraud but yet they are still doing the same thing advertising and commercial, shall it have been any one else will be in serious trouble even thou I feel someone like me not all winners PCH do not want to payout the winning awards. I have won a 11 million sweepstakes awards 20 years ago ànd in 2018 a Lotto of $850000.00 both never received. This year 2021 I received part of a claim number and complete the file of 10 million sweepstakes wards has not been acknowledged. Val Wilson
Hank Liu
March 09, 2021
Someone called from a Private Number and said their name was Robert Peterson. They said I won $1.8 million dollars and that I had to pay $510 for a processing fee. They gave me a Package #, Confirmation #, and Winning Ticket #. The call went on for over 15 minutes until it got to the "asking for money part." I said I was not comfortable and they quickly hung up.
March 12, 2021
Had a call today to a elderly lady I sit with saying he was David Sayers from PCH said he was coming Monday between 4:30 - 5pm to take her to the bank. Idiot the bank closes at 4:30pm. I asked for a call back # he gave me 585-250-7671. I never called back. He had called frim a 819 area code #. Of course I knew he was trying to scam the elderly lady and told him id be waiting for him.
March 16, 2021
They called my mother pretending to be PCH and said that they would need her bank information to deposit her winnings but instead tried to withdraw $888,888,88 from 1 account and $899,899.99 from the other. After reporting it to the bank she’s still getting calls from them. Public enemy of seniors #1. Scammers. Hopefully she can get through this without loosing anything.
March 16, 2021
Someone just called me from a restricted number with a heavy accent, and a little bit rude, stating they're from UPS and that they were going to be delivering a check that I needed to sign for from Publisher's Clearinghouse that I'd done "a long time ago". They gave me a number 302-301-7708x5 to talk to Albert Johnson and a "tracking number" J5571490USWINNER (hahaha, sure).
Another scam
April 16, 2021
Another scam call with a phone number (516) 495 3101 and "PCH Claims Off" on the display. Do not pick up.
May 04, 2021
I was called by a lady who said she was CEO with piblishers clearinghouse. She said I won 750,000 amd 700 a week for life, and A mercedes benz 2021. To collect I was to got to Walmart nearest me and a local bank there, is where I would pick up my winnings.
June 14, 2021
I just got a call from an agent of Publish clearing house, John Lindsey stating I won 2.1 million dollars and a car. I told him I wanted proof that this real. He even gave me a claim #? I know he is scamming me, since reading your guidelines on scams that they never call and email you that you won.
L. D.
June 16, 2021
Just received call from 585-684-7266 claiming to be Publishers Clearing house. Call that number and choose #1 to speak with a James Myers. Of course I'll do no such thing.
June 16, 2021
Just tried scamming me too
July 18, 2021
Just reading here and want to add what seems to be the newest scam. Received letter (no return address) from International Lotto Commission( checked is listed scammer)no address, and a large check from a bank in MI enclosed. Supposedly won money from PCH and the check was to cover my costs for claiming. A name and telephone number in letter stating I must call this person and get all the details for the funds. So if I had deposited the check (I did not) they would have full access to my bank account and if called the number full access to my phone. I did not call. It had a bad smell and I warn others - READ the content of those letters is very FISHY.
July 30, 2021
518-218-6440 number on call ID & quoted during automated call stating notification of winning Publishers Clearing House prize.
August 11, 2021
I have been trying to get pch to stop sending emails to my deceased wife (they use 4 different name variations). I have wrote them many times that she is deceased. How can they even consider they are legal when if her name is selected they can never pay her the money. Yet they keep sending notices that she is a possible winner.
Pat in Texas
August 26, 2021
I received an email with subject line: ***Urgent Alert $650,000 unclaimed prize***. It claimed I won $650,000.00 second prize from a sweepstakes in 2020 and they have been trying to reach me since. Attached in the email was a Publishers Clearing House Winners Claim Form and PCH Affidavit. Within the email, it says: " A cashier check, bank wire, or money order must be paid to the IRS or to the Trustee appointed by the HSBC Bank, this must include the claim number, full name, date, and place of birth, current address, and social security number if you have one. The purpose of this fee usually it’s to cover federal tax clearances, account maintenance, etc. And documents fees associated with the reporting and registration of the prize by the bank, since PCH is required to issue a tax registration form 1099 to every winner claiming more than $10,000.00." It states to contact a Oscar Mendez, claim agent rep, at 1-516-888-4702 for help. Upon contacting Oscar, he says we must pay $550 for insurance.
September 08, 2021
Received call from restricted number. "This is Mike Walker from Publishers clearing house. You have won a prize and I need you to contact (646)817-6620 ext5 ask for Dave Sayer." Sounds like a scam to me considering PCH says they will show up on your porch like the commercials.
October 12, 2021
I received a phone call from 332-331-6952, David Bush from Publishers Clearing House. He said I won 4.5 million dollars and a 2021 Mercedes. I need to pay $1500.00 for fees. I was instructed to call the following day to set up an appointment for a lawyer and police officer to come to my house to sign paperwork and collect the money. They would bring my check and the new car to my house. They even gave me a winning claim number. Asked me how I was going to spend the money and was I happy about winning such a great prize. Luckly I did not give out any personal information at that time. I was supposed to give all that the following day and arrange for a meeting. I was told not to tell anyone about me winning the prize, they didn't want any information was out until it was official.
White Wave
October 24, 2021
David Cooper from PCH called ("Unknown number" on caller ID) to say I had 'won' $$$$ Prize and $5000/wk for life. Asked me if I knew what PCH was, etc. Also assured me that God had so blessed me (big clue that this is a scam). Went on to give me claim, and other numbers. He reminded me several times that today god had 'blessed me' with winning the PCH 'drawing'. Then said that I needed to 'drive' to Dollar General to get a "Vanilla Card". He would stay on the line while I 'drove' to DG. Then said to put $125 on the card. I laughed and hung up. Of course, he tried to call back, but didn't answer.