Crime Brief

Geneva Twp. woman believed she won $5M, Mercedes in Publishers Clearing House con

BMO bank blocked swindler’s attempt to steal $500 from her account

GENEVA TOWNSHIP – A Geneva Township woman believed she won $5 million and a Mercedes Benz car from Publishers Clearing House, later reported almost losing $500 from her checking account in an unapproved charge, according to Kane County Sheriff’s reports.

The woman, a resident of the 800 block of Considine Road, reported on May 15 that she received a call from a man who said he was from Publishers Clearing House, the report stated.

She told the deputy she was on the phone with him for two hours, and gave him her debit and checking account number, social security number, a picture of her driver’s license and her maiden name, the report stated.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the woman received a text message from her BMO Harris Bank checking account asking if she had approved a $500 charge, the report stated.

She “replied, ‘No,’ and that is when she became suspicious,” the report stated.

She told the deputy she called her bank to freeze her checking account and called the sheriff’s office to report it, the report stated.

The deputy called the number of the person claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House. The man answering accused the deputy of not being the police, and when the officer asked for an employee ID number, the man gave it, saying he was in Jericho, New York, the report stated.

But when the deputy asked for a specific address, the man hung up.

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said when BMO alerted the woman to the transaction and she said she didn’t authorize it, the bank blocked it and she didn’t lose any money.

The woman had also not entered any sweepstakes with Publishers Clearing House, Hain said.

According to the Publishers Clearing House website,, the company’s employees will never call someone to advise of winning a prize.

The website also advised that scammers were using the names of actual Publishers Clearing House employees to appear legitimate to those they contact – including via email or social media.

Scammers also tell people they need to send or wire money or buy gift cards in order to claim their prize, something the company would never do, according to the website.

“Our SuperPrize is presented just the way you see it in our popular TV commercials, ‘live and in person’ by our Prize Patrol, with balloons, bouquet of roses and check in hand – – and with no advance notification!” according to the website.

The company also shares information with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Service and law enforcement, encourages people to report to its Scam Incident Report.