SWEETWATER COUNTY, WY.    –    The “Publisher’s Clearing House Scam” has returned to Sweetwater County, and Sheriff Mike Lowell and Sweetwater Scam Alert wants people to avoid becoming victims.

Recently, swindlers are calling county residents from a number based in Kingston, Jamaica, to inform them that they have won $155 million and a 2012 Mercedes through Publisher’s Clearing House.

The only catch is that before he or she can claim their prize, the “winner” needs first to send in $9,999.32 in bogus “taxes” via a Moneygram purchased at WalMart.

One person who called the Sheriff’s Office to report the scam said she told the caller she didn’t have the nearly $10,000 “tax fee,” but could send $2,000. The caller quickly agreed, and said she was still eligible for the prize, but at a reduced figure. (Fortunately, she sent the scammers nothing.)

“Of course, if you fall for this scam and send the money, you never hear from these people again,” said Lowell. “Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to swindles like this because they’re thrilled at the idea of obtaining a large sum for their extended families. That’s why we ask that people talk to friends and family members who are seniors to warn them.”

Lowell said highly organized scam rings in Kingston are so active that the U.S. Department of State posts a warning on its Jamaica web page:

“The American Citizen Services section in Kingston receives frequent inquiries from citizens who have been defrauded for hundreds and even thousands of dollars by Advance Fee Fraud scammers in Jamaica. The most prevalent in Jamaica is the lottery scam, where scammers lead victims to believe they have won a drawing or lottery, but the cash or prizes will not be released without up front payment of fees or taxes. Scammers frequently target the elderly or those with disposable income.

“If it is too good to be true, it is not true. Do NOT believe that you have won a lottery you never entered. It is illegal to play foreign lotteries from the United States. Do NOT believe any offers (lottery, prize claim, inheritance, etc.) that require a fee to be paid up front. Do NOT provide personal or financial information to individuals or businesses you don’t know or haven’t verified. Do NOT send any money to someone you do not know. Do NOT attempt to recover funds personally or travel to Jamaica to transfer money.”

“If you get one of these calls, just hang up and report it to us,” said Lowell. “Don’t waste your time talking to these people.”

For more information on this and many other fraud schemes, visit the Federal Bureau of Investigation website at http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud .