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Sheriff warns of prize scam

The Henderson County Sheriff's Office warned of a scam in which residents are told they've won a car or $2.5 million from Publishers Clearinghouse and must send cash or prepaid debit cards to claim their prize.

"PLEASE refrain from engaging the caller in any conversation because this is an absolute fraud and scam," the sheriff's department said in a news release. "If you are told by anyone you have won a prize, a vehicle, or any other item of value and are requested to send cash, money order, or prepaid debit cards, DO NOT! You should NEVER have to pay for anything you have won!"

The department has received calls from "multiple victims reporting they had won $2.5 million dollars and a new car through Publishers Clearinghouse," Maj. Frank Stout said in the news release. "Victims, after being told they have won are instructed to send either cash or pre-paid debit cards from CVS or Walmart to a specific address. The caller will identify himself and tell you to follow up with a call to the IRS to validate the claim as far as taxes and 'state to state' transfer of monies is concerned, also a scam.

"They will also ask for the card numbers of pre-paid debit cards once they've been purchased. By doing this they will take the number and make an identical card and have the money immediately with no hope of restitution to the victim. You are then informed once payment is received, your winnings will be forwarded to you immediately. This will NEVER happen. The address given for most of the customers has been to a New York address which after further investigation ends up being forwarded out of country."