Well that’s what the people on the phone said.
The topic of scams is nothing new around here. I actually shared another story a while back about a similar sweepstakes scam. However, this time they took it a little too far.
(If you want to skip the background that led up to the last two calls in this story, skip to the bottom and listen for yourself. Be forewarned…There is adult language. )
This story starts with a call earlier in the day for my mother from a man who identified himself as a “delivery guy”. When I questioned what he was delivering, he informed me that he needed to deliver a “certified sweepstakes check”. I took his phone number and told him I would have my mom call him back and thought that would be the end of it.
Nope. He called back later that evening and identified himself as “John White”. A somewhat peculiar and particularly American name for a person with such a thick accent, but what do I know. I’m not sure if it was the same guy from earlier because I honestly wasn’t paying attention to his voice on the first call. Having been home all day, and in heavy procrastination mode from client work, his call back was perfect timing with my need for useless entertainment.
At some point during our 20 minute phone call, I was informed that I (or my mom rather) had won $3.5 million and a 2015 Mercedes Benz. Lucky us!
He would be sending a UPS delivery person to my house and all I needed to do was go to Western Union and purchase a “delivery receipt” for $499. He provided the name of his “merchant banker for the mega millions”, and a city and zip code to provide when I purchased the receipt. Once I had the receipt in hand, and two pieces of identification and a packaging number, I was to call him back so that he could send the delivery guy to my house. I was offered the option of a public or private delivery. The public option included a television appearance, so I went with it. The foolishness just went on and on. At one point he said, “It seems like you are playing games with me.” Who me? Play games?
That called ended with me agreeing to find someone to borrow $499 from within the next hour, and then going to a Western Union to purchase my delivery receipt, at which point I would call him back.
I thought that was the end of the story. Little did I know that was just the beginning.
The next day I received no less than TEN calls from different phone numbers using the Jamaica area code. All before 11AM.
I’ve summarized a few of the more interesting calls below.
My mom wakes me up EARLY morning with the phone in her hand asking if I had talked to someone yesterday and told them I would go somewhere to get something from them.
Me (half asleep): Huh? yeah.
Her: Well this is them on the phone. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about.
Me: *takes phone and hits END CALL*
I answer the phone this time. It’s a different guy from yesterday and he wants to know ‘What happened?’
Me: What happened to what?
Him: What happened????
Me: What are you talking about?
Him: I am calling from the Publishers Clearing House.
Me: Oh ok. Well I’m not interested. I don’t need any money.
Him: something something something…piece of shyt…something something…I never know a dirty dog like you.
That’s all I could understand before I started laughing hysterically and eventually hung up the phone.
Now, let me pause right here. It sounds crazy right? Unbelievable even. That this stranger who is clearly lying through his teeth and trying to steal money from me, is now cursing at me and calling me names. Who does that? Surely I said something to offend him and set him off. Nope.
So as I’m telling a friend about the situation, and because it sounds so outrageous, she suggests that I record the calls.
I’m glad I did because it eventually went from bad to worse and there is no way I could tell this story and you really get it, without actually hearing a call or two.
Its ‘John White’ again from yesterday calling to see if I got the ‘delivery receipt’ and then wanting to know why I hadn’t gotten it. He was clearly irritated when I told him I didn’t have the money. However, he didn’t curse me out like Caller 2 and we parted amicably.
Ironically, it’s AT&T customer service with a survey to check and see if I was satisfied with my call from the day before. I had requested they add the highest level possible of an anonymous call blocking service to my phone. At that point, based on the 6+ calls I had already received that morning? It was clear that anonymous call blocking service sucks.
So there are a few more calls over the next hours. Some I answered, some I didn’t. All the same million dollar check offer for a fee. A different fee each time and a different amount won.
At this point I will cut my commentary short and just let you hear these last two calls for yourself. This is probably around call 8 and 10.
WARNING: Part 1 includes adult language. No, really.
Are you ready for this?
Yup. You heard right. Have you gotten up off the floor yet?
Ok, one more. This one isn’t half as offensive, yet equally entertaining.
So yeah, that happened. My friends who I’ve shared this story with can’t believe how calm I was or that I even stayed on the phone with the people that long. Part of it was just the curiosity of wanting to see where the conversation would go. Part of it was boredom. And part of it is my patient and laid back attitude which comes in pretty handy as a caregiver.
Unfortunately, there is not much I can do about the calls. I’ve tried calling the police in the past, and that was pointless. Clearly the phone company is no help. Yes, I am somewhat making light of the situation, but the reality is that this happens to trusting and unsuspecting people everyday. At this point our options are limited, but what we can do is stay vigilant for our loved ones and the elderly and let them hear stories like this in hopes that they gain a better understand of how this game works and that you will never have to pay money to win any legitimate prize.
The real Publishers Clearing House offers 5 Ways To Know If It’s A Publishers Clearing House Scam!
1. If you’re required to wire or pay any amount of money in order to claim a prize, it’s a Publishers Clearing House Scam.
2. If you’re asked to load up a Green Dot MoneyPak or other money transfer card, in exchange for claiming your prize, it’s a Publishers Clearing House Scam
3. If someone tries to contact you in advance regarding a prize delivery, it’s a Publishers Clearing House Scam!
4. If someone calls you on the telephone claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House and says you have won, it’s a Publishers Clearing House Scam.
5. If someone claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House tries to send you a friend request on Facebook, it’s a Publishers Clearing House Scam
Read more here.
I am working on figuring out if there are other ways to report them. I have a picture of a Law & Order (the TV drama) type raid of some seedy dirty basement room that smells of cigarette smoke and sardines in a building in Brooklyn where a bunch of sweaty dirty old men have a call center set up and spend the day swindling people out of their money.
Have you ever experienced anything like this? Let me know in the comments below.