Did “PHC” call you yet? Scam alert!

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Last Saturday my friend and neighbor called to tell me he’d gotten a call from Publisher’s Clearing House. He’d won $2 million plus a new Mercedes. He was convinced the call was real because they didn’t ask him for any information – such as a bank account of Social Security number.

liarHe knew I’d gotten a call a couple of months ago from “PHC” telling me they needed my bank account number so they could deposit the funds I'd won, so when they didn't ask, he felt reassured.

His first clue that this was a scam should have been that he hadn’t entered their contests for perhaps 20 years, but the caller had an answer for that too.

A couple of hours later he called back. He’d done some research and learned that they don’t notify winners by phone. Now he was sure it was fake.

By the time they called him 2 or 3 more times, always with answers to his objections, he wasn’t so sure again. Maybe it was real. He planned to call Publisher’s Clearing House on Monday.

He hasn’t called back to tell me what they said, but someone else did!

Imagine my surprise and delight yesterday when a caller identified himself as being from PHC and informed me that I’d won $1.5 million and a new Mercedes!

I was answering with “M-hm” type noises while he rattled on. Then I said “Why do you do this? Don’t you feel bad calling people with this kind of bogus news?” He got huffy and said “What! You think this is some kind of a joke?”

I told him no, that I knew it was, because a friend had gotten the same phone call.

That’s when the line went dead.

I couldn’t figure out the point, since they aren’t phishing for bank account numbers, etc.

Surely their only purpose could not be to hurt people by giving them that kind of hope and excitement, then taking it away.

My neighbor found the answer to that question. It seems that if you are foolish enough to respond to them, they put you on a list of possible “marks” for other scammers. Then they sell the lists.

Since my neighbor did talk to them on the phone 4 or 5 times, he may be in for a flood of phishing calls.

Comments (11)

Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

 they get away with that nonsense by calling seniors who are not savvy to those scams... they are very believable... 

Jul 28, 2020 11:22 AM
Marte Cliff

That's so sad - to make people believe they're rich and then letting them down. Jerks.

Jul 28, 2020 09:14 PM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

Marte Cliff OHMIGOSH you didn't mean to, but you've got me laughing so hard it hurts. I worked for the real-deal PCH waaaaaay back for a summer job. Used to come home covered in green dust from opening the envelopes. Our line supervisors would read the letters people enclosed with their entries that they hoped would increase their chances of winning. It was sad and very funny. Lauren

Jul 28, 2020 12:14 PM
Marte Cliff

Lauren Williams, CPO, CVO - People send letters in hopes it will increase their chances? Amazing.

Jul 28, 2020 09:14 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

The odds winning anything major from PCH is like 1.7B to 1 Marte Cliff 

I had to deal with them when they sent a product to my house and said I bought it. I told them my chances of buying anything from PCH are about the same as me winning $7,000/week for life. 

Jul 28, 2020 12:51 PM
Marte Cliff

Doug Dawes They had an explanation for how my neighbor could win when he hadn't entered. I didn't get that far with the conversation...

Jul 28, 2020 09:15 PM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


They have not called us, or our live answering service scared them.  Thanks for the story.  A

Jul 28, 2020 12:54 PM
Marte Cliff

Ron and Alexandra Seigel Who knows - they must be calling numbers at random, but funny they'd get 2 on our little 2 mile long road. There are only 6 homes on this road.

Jul 28, 2020 09:17 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Marte Cliff ,

These callers are so cruel they get the hoped up for many and especially in our pandemic times consumers are willing to fall for things out of boredom!

Jul 28, 2020 04:25 PM
Marte Cliff

Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR  agree - it is cruel.

Jul 28, 2020 09:18 PM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

I love the calls...depending on my mood...I may educate them on real sales jobs...or play along...or make up a story. My wife thinks I am nuts and...well if the shoe fits....

Jul 28, 2020 07:59 PM
Marte Cliff

Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker You remind me of my neighbor - he loves to give those callers a rash of sh...

Jul 28, 2020 09:19 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Well congratulations, I get the Irish Lottery, Publisher's Clearing House and the list goes on and on... funny I also get email that Bank of America wants me to update my password....and so does about another three banking institutions and let's not forget my email needs a new password and oh one more just for fun my  Manager wants me to do a fund me page for someone neither one of us knows:))Endre

Jul 28, 2020 08:45 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

No, I have not been blessed by a call, nor even notification in the mail. But good to know about. There are more scams out there these days than we can even think about!


Jul 28, 2020 09:09 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

UPDATE: The caller said he would call my friend at 8:30 on Monday morning. When he didn't answer the phone, they called back 38 times over the course of the day. They didn't want to give up!

Jul 28, 2020 09:20 PM
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

Had a Past Client residing in a senior facility, calling me it seemed every time the PCH commercial would air.

Knowing they were elderly and probably experiencing dementia, I just listened and never challenged the validity.

When she would insist on touring luxury townhomes, I would respond with sure when the money is deposited in your account.

I did end up selling her former home I sold her 25 years ago. Working with her Daughter, I learned she had to install cameras so she could monitor her Mom’s phone calls to immediately intervene on this fraud activity!

I call it SHAME BEFORE GOD activity!

Jul 29, 2020 09:22 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Marte- a few years ago we had a friend who was selling his car via one of those auto trader magazines. A lady called and told him to consider it sold. She said the "package" would be in the mail. First clue- who says "package" when referring to money?  This went on for a few days and he even received a bogus check. He was playing along thinking no harm since he did not give anyone any money or information. 

I called Robert Siciliano here and he suggested our friend stop any further contact...that they already had all of the information they were looking for. 

Jul 29, 2020 11:24 AM