You've seen the Publisher's Clearing House commercials where the sweepstakes company surprises people at their door with big winnings. But some people impersonate the real company, and the con artists are getting their hands on your hard-earned money.
Paul Tiliakos recalls several recent and disturbing phone calls to his Metairie home.
"They asked for my father. They're targeting elderly," he said.
At least a handful of times, Tiliakos says the caller asked for his father, Emanuel, and claimed to be from Publisher's Clearing House. The caller told the elder Tiliakos that he had won, and that in 45 minutes, someone would deliver a check for $350,000 to their home. If he didn't want the money, he could opt for a brand-new Mercedes. The caller even gave him a specific Veterans Boulevard dealership.
Emanuel Tiliakos says the offers are too good to be true.
"Any stranger or someone who comes on the phone and says, 'well I got this for you' - none of that," he said.
Emanuel Tiliakos was right, because to cash in on the money or the luxury ride, he was told all he had to do was give the caller a major credit card or his bank account information.
"My father's 85 yearsold. Luckily he still has his mind to not do that," Paul Tiliakos said.
But the calls didn't stop there. Another caller, told the elder Tiliakos that he had won a 40-foot boat from a boat dealer on Airline Ddrive. On another occasion, the offer was a half-million dollar home in Lakeview. The keys would be delivered in an hour. Then, it was a seven-day cruise.
"He offered me free, two-way airline tickets. At that point in time, I just hung the phone up," Paul Tiliakos said.
Every time, they asked for the elder Tiliakos, claimed to be from Publisher's Clearing House and needed personal bank information. Paul Tiliakos explained how each time the caller got very aggressive in his tone, and what's even more frightening, he says the caller knew his address and other personal information.
"He basically told me you know what I could do to my dead mother, and he hung the phone up," Paul Tiliakos said. He wondered how the caller knew about his deceased mother.
Publisher's Clearing House is a legitimate company, but some people will impersonate it and contact fans to claim a fake prize. The real sweepstakes company has tips on its website to help you recognize a scam:
In order to claim a prize, if someone requires you to wire them money, pay them money first, or load cash on a money transfer card, those are all signs of a scam. Publisher's Clearing House won't ask you to pay a penny to claim a prize. When someone tries to contact you about a prize delivery, that's a red flag. Scammers are also on social media. If someone claims to be from PCH and sends you a Facebook friend request, don't fall for that either.