SUNBURY — Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz warned residents about scams involving Publishers Clearing House and the Social Security Administration.
At 1:30 p.m. Monday, Matulewicz said a caller identifying himself as Wayne Watkins, senior claims adviser for Publishers Clearing House, attempted to place a second phone call to a 77-year old Sunbury woman minutes after the first call dropped. At that moment, the woman’s 56-year-old daughter arrived and learned of the previous phone call, which involved the alleged winning of a large sum of money.
When the scammer placed the second phone call, the daughter (now pretending to be her mother) continued the conversation with the scammer who advised her that she had won $5.5 million and a new Mercedes Benz. He told her the “prize patrol” would be delivering the winnings to her home at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The caller also said the winnings included a one-year supply of fuel for her car and full insurance coverage on the car for one year provided by Geico Insurance.
The district attorney said the recipient of the call, knowing it was a scam, continued to play along in order to gather additional details. The caller told her he was a Christian and said, “God has answered your prayers and wants you to spend your money wisely.”
The caller asked the woman if she worked for a government agency or ever got in trouble with the law. She replied “no” to both questions.
The caller then told her he was glad to hear that and the winnings would have to clear U.S. Customs and a “yes” response may have interfered with the movement of funds.
The scammer then advised the woman she would have to pay a registration fee of $1,950 to claim her prize. He told her to go to her bank and get the funds and warned her not to tell anyone else while doing so. He told her to tell bank officials she needed the money to pay medical bills.
Prior to the end of the phone call, the scammer told the woman to call him back at a specific phone number (in the 516 area code) and speak directly to him or Dave Soyer, general manager of Publishers Clearing House. At that time, they would provide instructions to her on how to pay the $1,950 registration fee.
Matulewicz said several county residents also received phone calls from people pretending to be employees of the Social Security Administration. He said the residents are told that their Social Security benefits are going to be suspended.
If anyone receives such calls, hang up immediately and call the Social Security Administration at its published phone number.