Sweepstakes scheme targets North Texas woman




Posted on June 21, 2012 at 11:52 PM

DeSOTO - Carla Sheffield thought she won the big prize after getting a phone call from a group of people claiming to be from the popular sweepstakes company, Publishers Clearing House.

"They kept telling me that I won $1.9 million, and a 2012 Mercedes Benz," Sheffield said.

The men told her she had to give them $950 to collect the prize.

"They were good persuaders, but I knew it was a scam," she said.

It was all part of an aggressive scheme to cheat her out of money. The men kept calling her for days, trying to convince her it was a legitimate contest.

Sheffield recorded some of the conversations she had with the group. They promised her they would deliver the prize to her home if she met their demands.

When she asked them to stop calling her, their sweet words turned sinister. Sheffield got so frustrated, she insulted the men. They fired back with a threat.

"He said, 'I'm going to blow up your house up' because I disrespected them," Sheffield said.

According to Publishers Clearing House, they have seen this type of fraud all over the nation. They told News 8 the crooks behind the scheme have also threatened their employees.

"We've seen people lose money and be targeted that are old and young," said Assistant Vice-President of Consumer Affairs Chris Irving.

Irving also mentioned that the thieves are now scouting social media sites on the Internet, including Facebook, to find victims. He said the group has also used PCH employee photos as part of their strategy.  The company's message: their winnings don't cost any money.

"You never have to send any money, never have to send any fee or tax in order to collect that prize," Irving said.

Sheffield never gave in. She hopes her experience is a lesson for others.

"Hang up [the phone,]" she said. "It's a scam."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com