Troy elderly couple loses more than $140K in Publishers Clearing House scam

Victims told they won money, but had to pay taxes first

Police: Publishers Clearing House scam swindled victims out of nearly $150K

TROY, Mich. – An elderly couple living in Troy has been scammed out of more than $140,000 in a matter of weeks.

“Very unfortunate situation. Sometimes our scammers prey on the elderly. They get people to believe they’re going to get these type of winnings and they’re gonna do anything they can to get that,” said Sgt. Jason Clark with the Troy police Department.

The victims received a phone call from a man claiming to be “Otis PeterBank” with Publishers Clearing House. They had had won over $2.5 million but there was a catch.

Clark said for the couple to receive the money, the scammer said they had to repay the taxes on it.

Over the span of three weeks, the couple wired a total of nearly $144,000. The scammer asked for payments to be made via gift card -- something that will almost never happen when dealing with a legit company.

“Had them going back and forth from the up store where they were receiving faxes, where they were signing affidavits for the winnings.  It was believable. Very involved scam,” Clark said.

In the meantime, multiple agencies are investigating in hopes of bringing the scammer down.

“We’ve got the federal prosecutor involved, Department of Homeland Security involved,” Clark said.

Police believe the scam may be the work of someone overseas.

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About the Author:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.