"In the past few months, the Newport Police Department has seen an increase in the number of reported scam attempts in which would-be victims are informed that they have won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes," Det. Patrick Weatherford explained.
"In these scams, the victim is told that they have won a million dollars or more and that the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Prize Patrol will be there shortly to deliver their check."
However, to process their winnings, they are required to send payment to Publisher's Clearinghouse, Weatherford added.
"The amount that the victims are required to pay varies between $300 to $500. The victims are instructed to go to Wal Mart and buy a prepaid Visa card and then await further instructions."
He continued, "If the victim complies, the scammer will then call them back and obtain the numbers from the credit card and transfer the money off the credit card, leaving the victim with no funds left on the card."
Unfortunately their willingness to deceive does not always stop there, according to Weatherford.
"In at least one recent case an elderly person was the intended victim and the scammer agreed to let this would-be victim mail a payment via check instead. This is especially dangerous to the victim as it gives the scammer access to their bank routing and account numbers."
The NPD has been in contact with various agencies - and even Publisher's Clearinghouse - regarding this scam and it is, unfortunately, a very common form of deceit.
"Publishers Clearinghouse itself is a legitimate organization and there have been numerous real winners of their sweepstakes. Publisher’s Clearinghouse will never solicit you to pay money in order to win their prizes and furthermore will not give you advance notice that they are coming to your home to deliver a prize," Det. Weatherford explained.
"Publisher’s Clearinghouse will never contact you in advance by telephone, email, social media, or letter to let you know you have won."
The investigator warns everyone to be cautious with their private information - and their money.
"Any prize notification that requires you to pay an upfront fee to collect it is a scam. No legitimate contest, sweepstakes, or lottery will ever ask for an advance fee to claim your winnings."
He continued, "There are many variations to this scam and many other scams which promise riches in exchange for a small processing fee or payment of taxes. Use your common sense when you encounter any such scam attempt and remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is."
Anyone who feels they may have been a victim of this - or any other scam - can contact the Criminal Investigation Division of the Newport Police Department at 870-523-2722.