$800M telephone scam hits MOV

VIENNA – Residents are warned of a scam from callers claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House that has been reported in the area, said officials.

The scam comes from a caller claiming to be the executive of the popular magazine subscription service, said officials. The scammer informs the would-be victim that they have won the $800 million jackpot prize, along with $7,000 a week for the rest of their lives.

The call is identified as “private name, private number” on caller identification, said officials.

And all the winner has to do in order to claim their prize money is to mail a cashier’s check for $499 to a Texas address in a certified overnight envelope, said officials.

When this happened to longtime Vienna resident Burnice Lemley, she almost fell for it.

The caller instructed Lemley that, in order to claim her prize, she had to send the cashier’s check within 24 hours, and that she was not permitted to tell anyone, even her own family, about the details of the situation, said Lemley. Doing so would disqualify her from collecting her winnings.

“The man kept telling me ‘This is for real, you’ve got to believe it and you’ve got to act fast,'” said Lemley.

Lemley obtained the cashier’s check, and the $19 certified overnight envelope, and gave the check to the post office, before she realized that something wasn’t right. Lemley was able to get her letter back before it left the post office, and canceled the cashier’s check through her bank, she said.

But most important, Lemley called the police, said authorities.

“It is important that people who receive these scam phone calls do two things: first, hang up. Then, call the police and the attorney general,” said Vienna Police Chief George M. Young.

Unless the scam telephone call originates from within a city jurisdiction, officers are only able to take down a report about the scam and provide public advice for avoiding them in the future, said Young.

Scams originate from all over the world, so caution is always needed when something is offered to you, said Wood County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Shawn Graham.

“If you ever receive a call or an email telling you something that sounds too good to be true, immediately assume that it is too good to be true,” said Graham.

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office is able to take the information about the scam and put it to use, said Young.

“When the same scam is reported multiple times, the attorney general’s office is able to gather enough information to launch an investigation, but they can only do so if the scams are reported,” said Young.

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office in Charleston can be reached at 1-800-368-8808 to report scams.

“Never give anyone your social security number, date of birth, banking information, credit card information, or send money of any amount to someone who is promising you a prize in return,” said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.

“You can’t win a contest that you didn’t enter,” said Mincks. “If someone offers you a prize in a contest you didn’t enter, immediately hang up, because you are being scammed,” he said.

There is another scam going around in the area, said Mincks. This scam informs people that their version of Microsoft Windows will stop working as of April 1, unless the computer is remotely repaired and updated by the caller for a fee of $178, said Mincks.

The caller even talks a person through the steps to grant them remote access to a computer, said Mincks.

“Once someone has access to your computer, they have access to everything you have ever typed or done on it, including every bank account you have accessed and all of your and your family’s personal information,” he said. “Never allow anyone to have remote control over your computer, even if they claim they are going to repair it.”