Etowah County man warns residents about fake Publisher’s Clearing House checks

Former Etowah County Commissioner Perry Gwin says his wife received a counterfeit check for 78...
Former Etowah County Commissioner Perry Gwin says his wife received a counterfeit check for 78 hundred dollars. (Source: WBRC)((Source: WBRC))
Published: Jan. 3, 2019 at 12:52 PM CST
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ETOWAH COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -An Etowah County man says his wife was the target of an attempted Publisher’s Clearing House scam.

Even though it's not the first time they've encountered it, this one has a twist.

Former Etowah County Commissioner Perry Gwin says this time, it involves a check.

Gwin says his wife received a counterfeit check for 78-hundred dollars.

He says he knows the check is counterfeit because when they last got one, they took it to a nearby bank and were told, yes, it was a fake check.

Gwin says they were also given specific instructions--to deposit the check, then send cash to an address.

Gwin says when his wife also received the same type of scam several years ago, he called the number as instructed, and told the man on the phone he had cashed the check, which he hadn't.

Gwin said the man became agitated.

"I said, 'Well, what am I supposed to do with it?'" Gwin told WBRC. "He said, 'Well, put it in an envelope, or put it in a magazine, and send it by UPS to a certain number, certain house number, in Bronx, New York.'"

"I said, 'well, I'm just going to keep the money, though.' They said, 'Oh no, I'll send the federal marshals after you.' I said, 'Go ahead, I know most of them anyway," Gwin added.

He said he later got a call from a man claiming to be a federal marshal, threatening to arrest him. When Gwin said he hadn't really cashed the check and wasn't going to do anything further, the man hung up.

People in Alabama have won real Publisher's Clearing House prizes before. Larger prizes are awarded at the person's home, completely by surprise, while smaller amounts are mailed for the person to deposit or cash as they please, with no further conditions.

A bookkeeper at the Etowah County Board of Education central office was surprised with a real PCH check for $25,000 in 2013, presented to her at work.

Gwin says the envelope containing the letter and fake check, was itself suspicious.

He says it didn't have the Publisher's Clearing House logo or a return address, but was apparently postmarked from Canada.

He says the letter did have the PCH logo but also logos from other companies, including Walmart, and claimed the Mega Millions lottery was a co-sponsor.

He warns people who may receive these mailings it’s a scam.

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