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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – They promise to arrive at your front door with a winning sweepstakes check.

But beware – it’s a scam that steals millions of dollars from people every year.

Michelle Albers said her 84-year-old mother Meredith got a call from someone claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearinghouse who said she had just won two and a half million dollars.

Meredith suspected it was a scam and called her daughter. Albers then called the supposed prize company back and, pretending to be her mother, asked how she could claim her winnings. They told her the prize patrol was just a half an hour away and would arrive at her front door, but there was a catch.

“They said I had to go to Western Union and take out a money order for $950,” said Albers.

It was allegedly a processing fee for the big prize.

“If you’ve been contacted by someone who says you’ve won a prize but you have to send money, it’s not the real prize, it’s not Publishers Clearinghouse,” said Chris Irving with the real Publishers Clearinghouse.

“Publishers Clearinghouse and general sweepstakes scams have been a problem for many, many years,” said Todd Kossow with the Federal Trade Commission.

In the last two years, the Federal Trade Commission has logged 250-thousand complaints about scams using the Publisher’s Clearinghouse name, costing consumers $38 million.

“They want to believe that they won and it’s sometimes hard for people like us to convince them that they haven’t won,” said Kossow.

Albers said she’s glad her mother didn’t fall for the scam and is telling her story in hopes that others don’t fall for it too.


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