Resident targeted by Publisher’s Clearing House scam

Your Orangeville Police Service is investigating a fraud incident where the victim was advised that he had won a financial prize through Publisher’s Clearing House. Residents are reminded to be vigilant for these types of crimes.

On Tuesday, January 7, 2020, a 69-year-old Orangeville man observed a post on the social media platform Instagram with a list of alleged million dollar prize winners. The victim’s name appeared on the list with instruction regarding how to claim the prize. The victim called a listed phone number and quickly received a response back. The victim was instructed to obtain a quantity of EBay gift cards and to send photos of the back of the cards revealing the scratched off redemption codes. The gift cards were said to be necessary to pay taxes, legal fees and handling fees for the prize. After receiving three separate requests and sending $6500 worth of gift cards, the victim took the advice of a family member and called police.

Prize scams have been prevalent for several years with the criminals constantly re-inventing the scam to come up with new twists to prey upon potential victims. Scammers usually target people who do not use online banking services and use the financial information to take over their account which is then potentially used to launder money and proceeds from other mass marketing fraud scams.

Police suggest the following to help protect you from becoming a victim:

• Exercise common sense. If something seems too good to be true it’s usually not true.
• Known lottery and sweepstakes companies such as Reader’s Digest and Publisher’s Clearing House will never request money up front in order to receive a prize.
• Any fees associated to winnings will never be paid through a money service business such as Western Union, MoneyGram or by loading funds to prepaid credit cards such as EBay, ITunes, Steam, etc.
• Any unsolicited phone call advising that you have won a lottery is usually a scam. The only way to participate in any foreign lottery is to go to the country of origin and purchase a ticket in person. A ticket cannot be purchased on your behalf.
• Never give out personal information over the phone, no matter who the caller claims to represent.

For more information about frauds and scams visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at

Posted on January 10, 2020