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Victim says sweepstakes dream turned into scam nightmare

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Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-14 19:17:06-05

You get a letter in the mail announcing you`ve won a major sweepstakes.  It seems like a dream come true, but in reality, most times it’s a hook designed to lure you into a scam that could cost you a lot of money.

You`ve seen the ads. A man shows up at your door with a big check and announces you`ve won the publishing clearing house sweepstakes.

So imagine one man`s delight when he got this letter stating he won.

“It said it was from Publisher`s Clearing House and it showed a sample check for $1.5 million dollars,” says a victim.

The victim is still embarrassed he was lured into a scam that cost him hundreds of dollars.

When he received the letter, he contacted the name and number and was told he needed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes to collect the winnings.

When the victim said he didn`t have the money.

“They have a solution for him. What they describe as prior winners can 'sponsor' him and provide payment to meet the necessary payments to get the prize,” says Larry Dodson, a retired U.S. Postal Inspector.

The victim unknowingly turned into a middle man for con-artists. He was receiving checks from other people who believed they are paying off taxes on their jackpot.

He then converted them to cash and spent hundreds of dollars sending packages overnight to Canada.

After re-shipping almost $119,000, the victim got a call from Canadian police who intercepted one of the packages.

“Get a magazine and then you get the cash and fold it into the magazine and then you get an envelope and send it... “ says the victim.

“Why are you sending this to Canada? I said to pay taxes to win my Publisher`s Clearing House winnings. They said we don`t collect taxes unless you are a Canadian citizen that kind of threw me. Then all of a sudden when I tried to call these people, the numbers were all disconnected. That`s when I knew I had been taken. I was totally destroyed,” says the victim.

“Publishers Clearing House, immediately it was something that was recognizable to him, he heard it before. And you think well, finally I`ve won something. I`ve got the American Dream that I`ve seen on TV before. So he was eager to do whatever was necessary to collect that prize,” says Dodson.

The victim in this case says he has learned a valuable lesson.

“I should have called Publishers Clearing House to see if this exists. Had I done that, none of this would have probably happened. I have no one to blame but myself,” says the victim.