Attorney General Hardy Myers today warned Oregonians of several telephone scams coming from Canadian "boiler rooms" concerning the recent judgments obtained against Publishers Clearing House by the Oregon Department of Justice and 25 other states.
"Telemarketers are intentionally confusing consumers by announcing that they are somehow connected with the Justice action filed against Publishers Clearing House," Myers said. "These sweepstakes victims are being targeted a second time and are losing thousands of dollars to these PCH imposters."
This week, more than 3,000 Oregon residents will receive a letter from the Oregon Department of Justice signed by Attorney General Myers concerning their eligibility for a partial refund as a result of a judgment obtained against PCH in 2001. The letter includes a simple refund acceptance form that must be filled out and returned to the settlement administrator by September 16, 2002.
Myers along with 25 other Attorneys General will distribute $19 million dollars in partial refunds to PCH customers who paid the company more than $1,000 per any one year between 1997 and 2000. Oregonians could receive more than $655,000 in restitution. The pro-rata share is approximately seven cents on the dollar.
"Unfortunately, there are always scammers ready to take advantage of any situation," Myers said. "The positive news of refunds is being negated by these fraudulent operations."
Justice investigators have investigated half a dozen calls from consumers throughout the state who received calls from telemarketers masquerading as customs officials, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or executives from Publishers Clearing House. Consumers are told they have refunds from the settlement or that they have actually "won" the PCH multi-million dollar sweepstakes. The "catch" is that because the caller reveals a Canadian connection, the consumer is asked to pay customs duty or taxes before receiving any money. One victim has wired over $10,000, never to hear from the callers again. A victim may initially be told that a refund will be delivered to their home in exchange for payment of taxes. However, investigators found that almost always a change in plans requires the consumer to wire funds out of the country.
"It is imperative that consumers understand that if they have to pay a cent to receive a prize or a refund, something is wrong," Myers said. "Those eligible for the PCH refund should look for the official letter with my signature, fill out the form and send it to the administrator in the enclosed return envelope. We will not call on the telephone and no money will ever be requested."
Consumers wanting more information about the refund process may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Information also is available online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org