I enter a lot of online contests. I’ve never won one, but hope, as they say, springs eternal. The other evening, I was in my office working from home, when my cell phone rang. When I answered it, a man with a heavy Indian or Jamaican accent told me that his name was Adam Goldberg and that I had won $2.5 million and a $50,000 Mercedes from Publisher’s Clearing House.
Let me make this clear before I continue. I immediately thought I was being scammed. What Indian/Jamaican is named Adam Goldberg?
When I first heard the man’s voice, I pegged him as Indian. Later, when I learned that he was calling from Jamaica, I thought I remembered a Jamaican accent. But that was after the fact, and I might have misremembered his accent or use of “ya mon.” All I know for sure is that he could not pronounce Connecticut at all.
Anyway, I told Adam Goldberg that I suspected that he was lying. He acted surprised and asked if I had gotten the letter that Publisher’s Clearing House had sent me. I said no, and he said that he was certain that they had sent it and he was amazed that I hadn’t received it. At this point, a little spark of hope ignited in me.
Despite my hope, I told him that I hadn’t entered a Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes in at least a year. I didn’t mention that they are dunning me for $22 that they say I owe them. I keep getting recorded calls telling me that my account is in collection. I should probably do something about that, like pay them. I probably do owe them $22. I vaguely recall buying some junk from them to qualify for a contest. (They say no purchase is necessary, but they’re legally bound to say that. I don’t buy it.)
Adam Goldberg went on to say that I had entered by shopping at certain stores with my credit card. He named the stores. I had never heard of them. Then he said that I also qualified because I’ve never been in trouble with the law. While true, that seemed like an odd requirement for winning. I told him that I never heard of those stores, so I couldn’t have entered.
At this point, my husband arrived home from work. I told Adam Goldberg to hold on for a minute. I put the phone on mute, went downstairs, and told my husband about my purported prizes. My husband said, “Hang up. Hang up now.”
I took the phone off mute and told Adam Goldberg that my husband wanted me to hang up. He asked me if I didn’t want my prizes, which were scheduled to be delivered that very day.
“If I accept,” I said, “I’ll get the money and car today?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said.
Meanwhile, my husband was chanting, “Hang up. Hang up.”
“I’m sorry, Adam Goldberg,” I said, “but my husband thinks this is scam.”
“Let me talk to him,” Adam Goldberg said.
“He wants to talk to you,” I told my husband.
He rolled his eyes and took the phone. He didn’t even give the guy a chance. “This is a load of sh*t,” he said into the phone and hung up.
I was incredulous. “You just cost me millions and a Mercedes,” I told him.
“Are you out of your mind?” he asked. “You didn’t win anything. He was going to try to get you to either pay money upfront or give him our financial information.”
“I would never give out our financial information,” I said. “I’ve read all about con artists ripping people off. But Adam Goldberg said that Publisher’s Clearing House sent me a letter.” I began to rummage through our mail. While I rummaged, my husband Googled the 876 exchange that the man had called from.
“This article says that this type of phone call is a con run out of Jamaica,” my husband said. “The callers try to get people to fork over thousands of dollars, using prepaid cards, to pay the taxes on their prizes. And, like I’ve been telling you, there aren’t any prizes.”
“It sounded legit to me, because of the letter he said Publisher’s Clearing House sent me,” I said.
“Legit like the time you gave control of your computer to fake Microsoft computer experts?” he asked.
“That was different,” I said. “I didn’t give them money.”
“No,” my husband said. “You gave them access to every single thing on your hard drive, which included our financial information. If I didn’t come home when I did today, you would have fallen for this.”
“I’m not sure it was a hoax,” I said.
“It is! You didn’t find any letter from Publisher’s Clearing House,” my husband replied in a louder-than-necessary voice. “You are such a patsy.”
“And you are rude,” I said.
“Well, at least I’m not rude and out thousands of dollars to boot,” he said.
I went back to my office and hoped that my prizes would arrive despite my husband’s behavior.
I’m still waiting.