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Portola woman warns of scams by mail and phone

This is the official looking letter a Portola resident received falsely stating she won nearly $3 million from a lottery in Spain.

One Portola resident doesn’t always believe what she reads; even when it is a letter stating she’s won almost $3 million in a Mega Lottery in Madrid, Spain.

Why does the woman know she didn’t win? She never entered it.

“Obviously, this is a scam because one, I did not buy a ticket so I could not have won, and two, you never have to pay money to collect a prize,” said Carilyn Gish.

The letter Gish received earlier in May looks official enough. It’s stamped, signed and dated. It’s in full color.

According to the letter, “We are delighted to inform you of the Mega Lottery Picker 2018 Draw.”

It goes on to give a serial number and Gish’s supposed lucky numbers that were drawn in late April.

The letter also explained that Gish had won third place and was approved to win the lump sum payout of $2,850,000 of tax-free money. The draw was said to be from 40 million American and European contestants.

As the letter is read, there is one tricky recommendation in the third line of the second paragraph: “To enable us (to) proceed with your claims, this information must be kept away from the public to avoid unwarranted abuse of the program or fraudulent claims by unauthorized person(s).”

The letter then goes on to provide a telephone number and an email address. “And also be informed that five percent of your winning belongs to Safeway Securities, because they are the promotion company.”

It goes on to state that Gish must be present in Madrid to collect her winnings or there is a “diplomatic delivery charge” to deliver it.

“I wish it was true,” Gish said Tuesday, May 22.

“I’ve also received several calls from people saying they were a law firm and I was being sued and to call this number to find out,” she added about one of the many scams circulating through Plumas County.

“Stop and think — why would someone be suing you? I can’t think of any reason — this is another scam.”

Gish said that her daughter also received a call from someone who was suing her because she owed money. Her daughter doesn’t owe anyone. And why would a legal firm call and not send an official letter?

“It really annoys me greatly to have my phone being invaded by these crooks,” Gish said. “The do-not-call list is worthless, too.”

Every week the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office receives calls from residents informing them of one kind of scam call or another.

One caller said they were from PG&E and wanted to know when the homeowner was at the residence so they could install a new meter.

Another common call is from someone stating that a grandchild is in need of money and to send it to a particular address.

Other callers claim to be from the IRS stating an individual owes money and he or she must pay up immediately. The IRS states they do not make phone calls.

“During filing season, the IRS generally sees a surge in scam phone calls threatening such things as arrest, deportation and license revocation if the victim doesn’t pay a bogus tax bill,” according to the IRS.

The real IRS will not:

Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.

Demand tax payment and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.

Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, demand that you pay with a prepaid debit card.

Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Threaten to bring in local police or other agencies to arrest you without paying.

Threaten you with a lawsuit.

Emails might also be sent out by those hoping to grab someone’s money. These are known as phishing expeditions and residents are warned not to fall for them.

For anyone receiving a scam call or email, don’t respond and never send money. They can be reported by calling the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office at 283-6300. Or to report an IRS Impersonation Scam go to the official reporting page on the Internet or Federal Trade Commission at FRC Complain Assistant on FTC.gov.

One thought on “Portola woman warns of scams by mail and phone

  • Do NOT report phone scams to FTC. They are not an investigative agency and will not investigate the scam.

    Report phone scams to your local Police. Wait two weeks. Then if your local Police has not sent a subpoena to the phone company that owns the number that called you go to your local courthouse and file for a write of mandamus.

    This is the only way to stop phone scams.

    Phone scams exist because Police refuse to investigate them.

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