The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

January 23, 2013

Watch out for sweeps scams

HUNTSVILLE — Residents be on the look out. It appears there are some deceitful people in the area trying to swindle folks out of their hard-earned cash.

A Walker County man figured out he was being deceived by a possible scam before he was duped out of any money and he would like to make sure that no one falls for the trick in the future.

Mike Cunningham received a phone call from a man pretending to be with Publishers Clearing House on Wednesday informing him that he had won $250,000. Cunningham became suspicious when he told the caller he had not entered such a sweepstakes in more than 10 years, but he said the man told him he had finally won.

The caller, who identified himself as Dave Seyer, told Cunningham there was a $980 charge to access an account with the winnings and that he needed to cash a check and take the money to Bank of America to meet with one of the Publishers Clearing House agents.

“They had a woman on the phone, a Mrs. Williams, claiming to be an IRS agent to prove it was on the up and up,” Cunningham. “I was beginning to believe it was a scam so I talked with a banking officer at Community Credit Union. He listened in on the call and when he began to question the caller he hung up the phone.”

Williams was on his way home when he once again received a call from Seyer. This time the number (876) 891-7485 popped up on Cunningham’s caller ID after the previous calls were from a private number.

“He told me this time that he knew I was skeptical, but he did not want me to miss out on the $250,000,” Cunningham said.

Seyer told Cunningham to go to Walmart and put $485 on a GreenDot reloadable pre-paid card, go to Bank of America and give it to an agent who would meet him there.

“At this point I just wanted to catch them in the act, so I pretended like I got the card and drove straight to Bank of America,” Cunningham said. “I was told that there would be a black woman wearing all black named Ms. Johnson and to give the card to her. She would then go inside and get the account number so I could have access to the $250,000.

“I got there and went inside where I was asked by a bank officer if I needed help. I asked if they had seen a black woman wearing all black and she said nobody had been in there matching that description.”

Cunningham went to the Huntsville Police Department and reported the incident.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there is someone in this area in on the scam,” Cunningham said. “If I can prevent this from happening to just one person then I will be happy.”

HPD encourages anyone who might fill like someone is trying to scam them to call the station at (936) 291-5480.

“Anytime you have questions about a contest, lottery or sweepstakes claiming that you won money, give us a call to check it out to see if it is legit,” HPD Lt. Jim Barnes said. “If it costs you money to receive money, run away from it and report it because it is a scam, especially if you have not entered any kind of contest. Nobody just randomly draws your name out of a hat and gives money away for free.”

Publishers Clearing House also has a toll-free number (1-877-379-3377) that can be called to verify any win Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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