Maryville couple avoids Publisher’s Clearing House identity theft scam

Tennessee

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Kay and Bill Pritchett say they’re familiar with scams and how they work.

Frequently, they get calls that sound too good to be true and quickly hang up. But the other day, there was an unusual call. It was not a recording and the caller was not asking for money.

“The guy introduced himself as Daniel Latruda and that he was from Publishing Clearing House,” Bill said.

Bill said this guy calling himself Daniel told him, while he had not won the main prize, he was selected as a runner-up.

“He said you have won a million and a half dollars,” Bill said. “I thought wow, too. He said you have won a 2020 Mercedes automobile. The only problem with that is we only have three colors left.

“I can see where someone would fall for this. With COVID and people hurting for money and all that. He said, by the way, he also said you get 3,000 dollars a week for life.”

Kay said when she returned home from work this Daniel only wanted to speak with her husband.
But Kay was familiar with the context of the call to Bill.

“You get senior citizens like us, even young people, fall for stuff like this all the time,” Kay said.

“He wanted me to go to my bank and open a checking account in my name,” Bill said of the scammer. “He stressed right then, don’t put any money in it. And, get a photocopy of your identification so we can verify that it is you.”

Bill did not follow the directions and knew if he had, it would opened himself up to identify theft.

“The thing about him was he was good at what he done. He was a salesman,” Bill said.

“You want to make money; you want something free,” Kay said. “It’s like playing scratch tickets, you want that money, right now. So it is tempting to do it.”

During the pandemic, it’s easy to imagine your financial problems disappearing by winning the big prize from Publishers Clearing House.

But the prize patrol never calls either to congratulate you in advance, or to ask for money or for personal information.

On PCH’s website they remind you that “winning is always free.” And, you are warned to be “aware of fraudsters pretending to be Publishers Clearing House employees.”

“We together thought we need to bring this out because we wouldn’t want anybody to get caught in something like that,” Bill said.

Unfortunately, many people do provide personal information to scammers or send them money for a prize that is supposed to be free. The scammer called Bill half a dozen times but never got personal information.

By the way, Bill said he would have preferred a red Mercedes, a convertible, so he and Kay could look “cool” as they drove around town with the top down.

The Benz hasn’t arrived yet.

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