Son-in-law prevents 87-year-old from falling victim to sweepstakes scam

Scammer pretended to represent Publishers Clearing House
The scam caller said he was representing Publishers Clearing House.
The scam caller said he was representing Publishers Clearing House.(David Whisenant-WBTV)
Updated: Feb. 3, 2020 at 3:46 PM EST
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SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Had it not been for her son-in-law’s suspicions, an 87-year-old Rowan County woman might have gotten scammed out of all the money she had. It’s another example of someone saying they are with a popular sweepstakes but are really targeting the elderly in a scam.

Kenny Hardin wasn’t about to let his mother-in-law be taken in by such a scam.

“I just feel bad because not everybody has a me to call," Hardin said. "Not everybody can call, but they should call the police department.”

It started with a phone call to Hardin’s mother-in-law. The would-be victim relayed what the caller said.

“He told me to go to the bank and then three people would come by here and bring me a new truck, then I’d be getting $5000 a month for as long as I live," the woman said.

Their suspicions raised by the calls got other family members involved, and the next time the scammer called back he was actually talking to another family member, not the intended target.

“You’re sure this is from Publishers Clearing House, right?" the family member said.

“That’s correct," answered the scammer.

“Okay, because I’m 87-years-old and I need to know what’s going on exactly," the family member said.

But as has been reported many times before, PCH will not call winners on the phone.

“If anyone is contacted by someone, told that they represent Publisher’s Clearing House and then they’re asked to make a payment or send money to claim a prize, you’re being scammed," said Margaret C. of Publishers Clearing House.

The next time the scammer called, Kenny took the call and decided to cut the scam short.

“Do not call back, do not come," Hardin said. "You will be charged with criminal trespassing and harassment if you call this number or you come back. Is that clear?”

That was followed by the sound of the scammer hanging up.

Hardin did call police and says Major Shon Barnes was very helpful in calming his mother-in-law and giving good advice.

“Never give any personal information over the phone to anyone you do not k now or don’t have a business or personal relationship with," Major Barnes said.

Barnes also pointed out that even police departments are likely to be used in potential scams.

“We had someone come to the police department alleging they were here to give us a donation because someone had called them and said they were collecting money, but I want to be very clear that police departments do not call citizens to ask for money…if that is happening, please call you local PD and make them aware," Major Barnes added.

AARP has a website with a section dedicated to preventing this kind of thing, good advice for seniors, or families with seniors who may be at risk:

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