John Howell Sr. Editorial 5/16/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2014

‘Clearinghouse’ scam touches nerve in Panola

No recent posting on The Panolian Facebook page has been viewed by so many so quickly as the story that is also reprinted in today’s edition on page one about the Publisher’s Clearinghouse scam caller.

And from your comments, it is evident that the same scammer (or scammers) is working our area with diligence. With his persistence, this guy posing as a representative of Publisher’s Clearinghouse could make himself a comfortable living as a legit telemarketer.

Debbie Bell told me that she has received 20 to 25 calls, “maybe more,” all during the day and as late as 10 p.m. It’s the same spiel as others have heard: $6.5 million won plus a new 2014 Mercedes Benz! All she has to do is to go to the nearest retail outlet and purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card and send them $299 for “shipping and handling.”

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“The minute Publisher’s Clearinghouse pulls up in my yard, I’ll be happy to pay the ‘shipping and handling,’” she said.

 During one or more of her conversations with the caller, she’s kept him on the line, trying to draw out more information, Bell told me. So much so that he has changed the color of the Mercedes that she’ll receive. First it was white. In a subsequent conversation, it was a black Mercedes. But as we laughed about how preposterous it was, the idea of sending this guy $299 or however much he asked, we also acknowledged the downside. He would not be making the calls with such persistence if he were not having some success.

Even though the scam seems so transparent, some people are actually sending him the money he asks for. And sadly, the people most likely to fall for it can least afford to lose their cash.
Scams abound. In person — like the old shell game ruse that beat a shopper out of several hundred dollars at a local shopping center a few months back. Several e-mail scams appear in my inbox daily.

If we caution with the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” the scammer must fall back on another, “You can fool some of the people some of the time.”