American Publishers Clearing House Complaint

$495,000.00 Sweepstakes Winner - 2nd Place winner - Magazines Sales

- Petaluma, CA
I received a call on Friday, 8/19/2011 early in the morning by a woman that could barely speak English. She said "2nd place winner" clear enough, but I told her I could not understand her (first sign this was fraud). She put a gentleman on the phone that said his name was Zachary Green and he was calling from the Las Vegas offices of American Publisher's Clearing House. He told me that I had won $495,000.00 in their November 2010 sweepstakes and asked why I had not responded to the mail they had sent me, then asked if I had moved. I wanted to obtain information from him as I figured this was a scam. He never asked me for any personal information other than my age and where I worked. He asked how many years I have been purchasing magazines, etc. I played along and obtained information from him. He did inquire if I had a bank account to deposit the check in and asked if I wanted my winning to be private or televised. He was very unprofessional, but gave me a claim number and a check serial number. He went on to say that a private courier would be delivering my check to me on Monday and asked if he had the correct address. He told me in the envelope that I would be receiving would be a Certified Cashiers Check, two 1099 forms (one for me and one for the IRS) and a letter from their Attorney, Chris Irving (who happens to be the attorney for the PCH). He informed me that I would be responsible for paying the taxes on the winnings and I told him I was aware of that. He asked me why I wasn't excited and I told him "I don't have the money yet". He then gave me a number and extension to call him on if I was not going to be home between the designated time. He gave me a second "toll-free" number with the extension if I didn't have toll-free calling.
I had been researching this online as I was speaking with him and figured I had some information to report him. I called the toll-free number back and he answered without me even having to ask for the extension - I asked him where the website was that I could see the winners from this November 2010 sweepstakes (in August 2011) - he abruptly said, "publishers.org". I called them and the woman told me it was inevitably a scam. I also called Attorney Chris Irving's number and was instructed that it was only for media and to leave a message. I went to my local police department and they said that there was nothing they could do and that probably nobody would show up at my house anyway. I contacted the California Attorney Generals office was instructed by a recording to send in all documentation regarding any scams that have already occurred, I left a message telling them that something was in the works and it would be nice if there was some kind of forum or division in effect that could be active to stop the scam or catch the perpetrators in the act. Received no calls back from the AG.
On Monday morning I had a call on my phone listing showing it was from Miami Airport. The message stated I needed to call them. I figured it was part of the scam - so I did call them. The man that answered the phone muttered something that I could not decipher, so I asked him "who am I calling?" He said, "Miami Airport customs department". I said I was returning his call and he asked my name - so I gave it to him and he put me on hold with some horrendous noise in the background so I hung up. He called me right back and said we must have gotten disconnected. He asked me if I was expecting something from American Publishers Clearing House and I told him "not really, why?" He told me he had an envelope there and he needed to confirm my mailing address. I asked him what address he had and he told me the correct number, but gave a street that was in the Bayview/Hunter's Point area of San Francisco (a street that doesn't even have a number as low as my street number). I told him that was the incorrect address and he asked me to give him the correct address. I said he should know it since the others involved knew it and had stated it to me correctly. He then said, "well, don't you know where you live?" I told him I was well aware of where I lived but he should contact American Publishers Clearing House for the correct address. He said, "what, do you want my social security number so you can trust me?" Then he recited MY social security number to me and told me to "shut the fuck up" and said, "I'm gonna fuck you up bitch" and hung up.
I called the number in Vegas from the call I received on Friday and told them that I received a call from Miami (played along with things) and the guy asked me for my claim number to confirm that I was really who I said I was. I gave him the number and asked what address he had for me. He gave me my address and I told him he needed to call his partner in crime and tell him the correct address. The guy in Las Vegas asked if there was a problem and I told him that his friend wasn't very nice and told him what he had said - to which this guy said, "fuck you, you better shut the fuck up".
At this point, having been threatened, I returned to my local police department and told them I was threatened. The woman at the police department said if they came to my house I should call 911, otherwise not to worry about it. I told her they had my social security number and she told me they probably googled me. She googled my name and could not find anything on me.
My concern is for others that fall for the scam and the fact that NOBODY will attempt to stop this before something drastic happens. Certainly with phone numbers someone could be tracked or skip-traced - but nobody, not even the AG is willing to assist. I did call the Miami Customs department and they were the only people that were going to actually do something about it by trying to track the number and shut them down.

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