SKOWHEGAN — A retired truck driver from Skowhegan wants to warn other elderly people about a telephone scam that claims to involve the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Ernest Richardson, 70, said he received a call from someone purporting to be from Publishers Clearing House saying that he had won $495,000. The check would arrive by FedEx about 10 a.m. the next day, he was told. The caller gave him the check number and the winning claim number.

The next morning, Richardson said, he received another call saying he had to call an attorney representing Publishers Clearing House to claim his prize.

Richardson made the call and was told the check would arrive through JFK Airport in New York and would have to be insured and inspected by Homeland Security.

All he had to do, Richardson recounted, was send $4,000 to secure his winnings.

“I don’t have $4,000,” he said. “I don’t have the money and I’ve heard of all these different types of scams, but never involving Homeland Security. I called Homeland Security and told them about it.”

Richardson said he told the callers that he wasn’t going to send them any money until they sent him a check and the calls stopped coming. He has not heard from them since.

He said it is important for people, especially older people, to be reminded that there are many scams out there. The real Publishers Clearing House is a marketing company famous for promoting huge sweepstakes along with its offers to buy magazine subscriptions and other items. The company warns of scams using its name on its website.

“They could call anybody and if they called an older person, maybe, they might talk them into doing something,” Richardson said. “It could be all the money they’ve got and they end up with nothing.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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