Scammers posing as representatives of the Publisher’s Clearing House are calling around claiming people have won prizes; but they need to pay up first.                                Western News file photo

Scammers posing as representatives of the Publisher’s Clearing House are calling around claiming people have won prizes; but they need to pay up first. Western News file photo

Senior couple from the Okanagan scammed out of $30,000

A senior couple in Penticton seeks to warn others in the area after getting scammed out of $30,000

By Brennan Phillips

Special to the Western News

A senior couple in Penticton are warning others after getting scammed out of $33,996.11.

“We were taken to the cleaner’s and we don’t want anyone else to be taken in by them. You think people won’t lie to you, but it’s not true. It’s not true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said the wife, who asked their names not be used.

It all started on March 15 when a phone call came from a man using the name Michael Stanley, who claimed to be a representative of Publishers Clearing House. He asked for the senior woman, who had previously been a subscriber, by name and informed her she had won $488,000 U.S.

Related: How Okanagan seniors can outsmart scammers

It was less than 24-hours later that Stanley called back telling the couple that they needed to send $9,000 U.S. to cover the taxes. The couple were told that RCMP and a Publishers Clearing House representative would be on their doorstep on March 22 to deliver the prize so the husband went to the bank, pulling the funds off his credit card, and sent a money order.

Two days before they expected to receive a knock on the door and the prize, another call came from Stanley.

“(Stanley) told us, ‘You’re in luck, because the second prize winner didn’t have the money to pay the tax. So if you send us another $8,000, you’ll have a chance to win another $350,000, on top of the $488,000 we’ve already won for you,’” said the husband.

The couple borrowed the money to cover the second payment from a personal friend, who was worried they could be getting scammed. The husband became suspicious after yet another call from Stanley.

Related: Two-thirds of seniors have been scammed online

“I could smell trouble,” the husband said. “I said Michael, I don’t want no garbage here, you better be here on the 22nd otherwise I’m going after you. He said that’s why I want to explain to you, we had a computer problem, we had this problem, we had that problem. But he said, do not be concerned, the money you put out is in an account in the bank, he showed me the account. He said the money I put out will be covered with this.”

The scammers even had someone call the couple claiming to be from the bank headquarters in Toronto to attempt to ease their concerns. The couple were told there was $34,000 in an account waiting for them and when it all shook out, the couple had lost about another $10,000. But before they knew that the husband went to retrieve the money at his local branch, and was told the account had been deemed fraudulent and been frozen. Meanwhile Stanley continued to phone the couple, the husband believes up to 25 times in one day, asking for more money.

Upset at the time that their accounts were frozen, the husband said they are so thankful the bank recognized something was not right or they could have been out even more money as the scammers tried to transfer even more money from their accounts.

“We are scared like heck now to even answer the phone,” said the husband. “… (my wife), she’s been three days without sleep and in tears.”

Related: Bank employee save Penticton woman from $6,000 CRA scam

While they will never see their money return, all the couple want now is to prevent this from happening to someone else.

“My gosh if we can save half a dozen, a couple, one person from this — I think it would be a blessing,” said the husband. “We can’t get our money back now, all we can do is warn others.”

The RCMP and anti-fraud sites offer tips and advice to help better protect yourself against scams:

1. If someone calls offering money, but claims you need to pay for something to receive it, whether they say it’s fees, or taxes, don’t.

2. Try to get some contact information from the individual calling, if they refuse to provide any information, consider it suspicious.

3. If you are called by someone claiming to represent or work for a group, either a bank or any company, get their information, and then contact the group yourself to verify it.

4. In the case of Publisher’s Clearing House, they do not call in advance with their prizes. They will simply show up at your door with the prize. Do not believe anyone claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House.

5. Do not give out your bank information.

6. If you do give money, and the person or group you gave it to immediately comes back asking for more to cover ‘unexpected costs’ or things like that, it is likely a scam.

If you have been or think you have been targeted by a scam, make sure to report it to the local RCMP, as well as to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You should also contact the bank where the money was transferred to, and report the incident to them, whether it is a bank, money service, or credit card company.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A BC Hydro outage is affecting nearly 4000 customers in Kitimat. The cause of the outage is under investigation. (Screenshot/BC Hydro Outage Map)
Cable fault responsible for Kitimat power outage, BC Hydro says

At its peak, the BC Hydro power outage affected near 4,000 customers

Graph showing the 2020 passenger totals at the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace. (Submitted/Northwest Regional Airport)
New year brings an end to a turbulent 2020 at Northwest Regional Airport

Passenger totals half of what they were in 2019

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

The leisure pool at the Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be open Thursday and closed Friday for maintenance, the DoK said in an updated Facebook post Thursday (Jan. 14). (Kitimat Leisure Services photo)
UPDATE: Leisure pool at Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre open Thursday, closed Friday

The leisure pool will be closed Friday (Jan. 15) for maintenance due to a mechanical issue

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Most Read