The fake lottery scam that has bilked residents of the Hudson Valley and elsewhere out of thousands of dollars, has now been expanded to capitalize on the name and reputation of Publishers Clearing House.
Typically a person receives a letter telling him or her that they have won a multi-million dollar lottery, but first they must cash an enclosed check and send a money-gram for that amount back to the company. Once an unsuspecting person deposits the check, buys a money-gram and mails it back, they learn the check was a fake and they are out that amount.
The company is usually in Canada or Jamaica.
The con artists have now extended their scam to purport that they are from Publishers Clearing House. One Lake Carmel women received what Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith said was an "authentic looking letter" and a fraudulent check for $5,340.
According to Debra Wright of Publishers Clearing House, the documents and checks appeared so real that even bank teller may be fooled. But, she said Publishers Clearing House never requires payment to claim a prize.
Sheriff Smith urges anyone who may receive a prize notification with instructions to cash a check and mail cash back not to complete the transaction and contact his office at 845-225-4300.