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The promise of $500,000 cash and a new Mercedes Benz might sound like the holiday gift you’ve been looking for, but Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond said it could be more of a headache than one might expect.
Hammond said at least five elderly Owen County residents have contacted his office about a recent scam where someone claiming to be the CEO of Publishers Clearing House calls and says they’ve won $500,000 cash and a new Mercedes Benz.
Hammond said the caller will tell the supposed winner they will be there in 20 minutes and all they have to do is hand over $300 to receive their “prizes.”
Hammond said the calls come from Jamaica.
“They put on a good talk,” Hammond said. “But one woman called Publishers Clearing House and they told her they don’t tell anyone they’re coming or what they’ve won, they just show up.”
Hammond said scams pick up around the holiday season and said one woman had already dipped into her life’s savings thinking the prizes were real.
A similar situation happened in Bowling Green and a Bowling Green Daily News reporter had several phone conversations with one of the callers to uncover the scam.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a caller involved in a telemarketing scam may tell you that you must act immediately or the offer won’t be good, that you’ve won a free gift, vacation or prize but you have to pay postage and handling or other charges, or that you must send money, give a credit card or bank account number or have a check picked up by courier.
The FBI suggests that you never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly and never give out your personal information, such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth or Social Security numbers.
“No one wants to go through that right here at Christmastime,” Hammond said. “Hopefully we can warn everyone of what’s going on and no one will lose any money.”