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Calaveras County, CA – Scammers are using a popular sweepstake to target victims and walk away with their hard-earned cash.

Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office reports that it recently received a report of a scam involving suspects representing themselves as an employee of “Publishers Clearing House” (PCH).  Sheriff’s spokesperson Lt. Greg Stark detailed, “The suspects contacted the victim via telephone and were able to obtain personal information and $600 via fraudulent means.” He added, “Typically, the suspects will claim the person has won a prize and say that to claim it they need to pay for an attorney’s fee, processing fee, or taxes.”

Warning that victims have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in these scams, the sheriff’s office offered these tips to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft or scams:

1. Do not get into a deal with wired money. Many scammers ask clients to wire money, it is impossible to reverse cash when wiring money.  If a seller insists that you wire transfer money to make payments, do not act unless you are absolutely sure about the authenticity of the deal.

2. Do not answer unknown callers. It is recommended you avoid unknown calls and do not entertain any unknown service provider that tries to sell services to you. Moreover, if you are inclined towards their services, ensure you perform online research on the reputation of the company.

3. Never reply to messages asking you for financial or personal information. No matter how you receive messages, in the forms of text, email, advertisement, or phone call, do not share your financial or personal information with the unknown message senders. This is called “phishing.” Eventually, these crooks try to trick you into revealing your sensitive personal information.

4. Hang up on “robocalls”. Robocalls are illegal if the company calling you has not done business with you in the past month. Do not press any buttons to speak with an operator, or any buttons to be removed from any list. This could result in additional robocalls. Just hang up.

5. Do not confirm or deny your identity until you know who is calling. Legitimate callers will indicate who they are and where they are from.

PCH details how prizes are awarded on its website, which can be viewed by clicking here.