HELENA, MS (WLOX) - Jessica Brinkman of Helena received a phone call Wednesday from someone who said she had just won the Publishers Clearing House third place prize, which included a new car and was valued at $2.5 million.
Brinkman and her friend, Ashley Dungan, took off work because the representative on the phone said the money and the car would be delivered on Thursday.
"I got kind of suspicious when they wanted the $299," said Dungan.
They wired that money to the company representative who had called and kept them on the phone for two hours.
"He told her specifically, 'Don't get off the phone with me. Don't let nobody hear this conversation. Do you understand that?'" Dungan recalled. "I'm thinking something is not right."
Then the man demanded they wire additional money to receive the prizes.
"When she said, 'I don't have the $1,500,' he proceeded to say, 'Can you take out a bank loan? Can you ask family members? Go pawn your stuff to get the money,'" Dungan said. "When they realized that she wasn't going to pay the $1,500, they got real aggressive."
Dungan says the so-called company kept calling Brinkman's phone non-stop. They got scared so they contacted WLOX, who called the 228 area code phone number.
WLOX Investigative Report A.J. Giardina told the person who answered, "Trying to find out how to get the money. I don't know you either. So, we're trying to find out if this is legitimate."
The man on the phone refused to talk with A.J. and kept asking for Brinkman. Brinkman and Dungan called Publisher's Clearing House and learned that their dreams of winning were too good to be true.
"Generally, they don't take money when you're getting awarded money," Dungan said they were told.
The Mississippi Attorney General's Consumer division advises never send money to anyone who claims you have won a prize. Also, don't be fooled if the phone number they are calling from has a local number. Scammers use technology that lets them display any number or business name on your caller ID.