BBB Tips: A Publishers Clearing House scam and fake conferences for business travelors

Marjorie Stephens is the president/CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Indiana.(ARCHIVE)

This list is current as of February of 2018. Readers should take into consideration the importance of the practice in question and the total performance of the company.

A call from Publishers Clearing House.

A consumer had entered the PCH contest and received a call that she was a winner. The caller had a thick accent, which made her a little suspicious. He asked her probing questions, such as “do you work?

Do you live by yourself?” He said someone would be there within the hour to award her $855,000 and that she would receive $5K per week.” But, she had to pay $500 taxes on the winnings up front. She said that this is what she uses to pay for groceries and couldn’t do that. He called back and told her, “I’m so disappointed that you aren’t taking advantage of this offer.” She hung up, scared. He continued to call her repeatedly.

A call from Microsoft support

Voice message indicated, “Traffic is trying to steal your identity and accounts. If you don’t call us immediately, your service will be locked up and disconnected.”

Fake conferences fool business travelers

Con artists will email real conference attendees claiming that they are the “official” travel provider for the conference. They try to trick attendees into booking non-existent hotel rooms and other travel arrangements. You search online for a conference and find (what you assume is) its website. It might reference actual speakers, have an “organizing committee” of industry experts, and name a real conference location. However, the people and places on the website have no idea that the conference exists. If you purchase tickets online, you – or your employer – will be out the registration fee.

“Grandparent scam” is also “Parent Scam”

A recording was left that a man’s son was in jail from an auto accident. Apparently, he had been drinking and was arrested in Florida. The concerned father called the number left on the voice mail and spoke to “an attorney,” James Franklin. Franklin requested $6,000 bail for the son and $2,000 for his attorney fees. He could only accept a bank cash card or cash. Also, $48,000 was needed immediately! This matter was not to be discussed with anyone. If the bank asked questions, he was not to divulge the reason why. He also was told that he must go to the Apple Store at University Park Mall in Mishawaka and purchase $8,000 in gift cards and call back. The store told him that the gift cards could only be redeemed at the store. The Manager at the store asked if he’d talked to his son. He had not and called him, only to find him at work. The scammer called back, and the “Dad” told him he was a scam. The “attorney” asked, “How can you call this a scam? Aren’t you concerned about your son?” He told him he’d talked to his son at work and…CLICK!

Marjorie Stephens is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. Before you make a purchase, go to the BBB website at or call 423-4433 or toll-free 1-800-552-4631 to check out a business.