Crime

Maryland Attorney General’s Office warns of Publishers Clearing House award letter scam



BALTIMORE, MD—The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is warning Maryland residents of a fraudulent “Publishers Clearing House” (PCH) letter that claims the recipient has won an award of a million dollars, or more, from a random drawing of a serial number called the 2021 Mega Prize Payout. The letter claims that the recipient has been approved for a lump sum payment.

At the top of the scam letter, “Payment of Winnings and Final Notice” is typed in bold, uppercase letters, and just under this is a Reference Number. The letter advises the recipient to contact a “claims agent,” and to keep the award confidential until payment has been made to the recipient’s account. At the bottom of the letter is a photocopied signature and picture of PHC’s Executive Vice President Deborah Holland.

This letter contains several red flags that it is a scam:



  • It asks the recipient to act quickly and confidentially to obtain a prize.
  • It contains awkward phrases and grammatical errors.
  • The signature and photo at the bottom of the letter are poorly reproduced photocopies.

Officials say residents should be wary of unsolicited “award” letters, emails, text messages, or other forms of communication, especially if they didn’t enter any contests, sweepstakes, or lotteries.

Anyone who receives this letter is asked to report it to the Consumer Protection Division at consumer@oag.state.md.us. Do not call any phone numbers listed on the letter.

Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of this scam should call or email the Identity Theft Unit at 410-576- 6491 or idtheft@oag.state.md.us.

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