Elaborate Publisher’s Clearing House Scam Uncovered
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department uncovered an elaborate case of fraud Friday morning.
According to the report, the victims of the scam were contacted on Tuesday by an alleged Publisher’s Clearing House employee, who told them that they had won $600,000 from a contest from four years ago. The fake employee told them the check was taken from the mail and cashed in Mexico, where the non-existent suspect was in jail.
The alleged employee then told the victims to expect a call from an FBI agent.
The call came that afternoon. The alleged FBI agent told the victims that he had negotiated to send the money via mail from Mexico, and that a sheriff from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department would call them to verify the FBI agent’s identification, and that this wasn’t a fraud case.
Wednesday, the victims received a call from a person alleged to be San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore, who told them that he was contacted by the alleged FBI agent, who verified the situation to him.
The fake FBI agent called them again, telling them that because the money was coming from Mexico to the United States that they would have to pay a duty tax, consisting of two payments of $1,400. The victims took out the $2,800 and sent the first $1,400 to Mexico City via Western Union on Wednesday. The second payment was sent on Thursday.
In addition, the victims also received a call from a fake US Customs agent on Wednesday. The alleged agent told them he had a package for them from Mexico City and that they were going to receive it, as long as it didn’t contain any drugs.
The fake FBI agent called them again Thursday, telling them that he would be sending them documents to fill out for tax purposes and for them to be able to get the money. The forms turned out to be true documents, but were being used for nefarious purposes in this case.
Friday, the victims called the Sheriff’s Department when they did not receive a call from the alleged FBI agent. The fake agent was supposed to call with a tracking number for them to receive the money.
The Sheriff’s Department investigated the case, and sent out deputies to North Lamb Road in Thornton around 10:05 a.m.
The San Joaquin Sheriff’s Department warns anyone to beware if they receive any calls about this manner, because it is a scam. Any suspicious phone calls are asked to be reported to local law enforcement.
Ruben Dominguez filed this report.