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Sweepstakes scam making its way around central Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Multiple people tell the CBS4 Problem Solvers they recently heard from scammers claiming that they won a lucrative sweepstakes.

The popular scam, in which a caller pretends to work at Publishers Clearing House, appears to be making its way around central Indiana, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Rosalind Guthrie got a call a couple of weeks ago and immediately became suspicious.

"(He said) 'I’m calling to let you know that you are the second prize winner in our big sweepstakes for $2.5 million,'" Guthrie said. "'I’m not sending you money,' right off the bat I told them."

Guthrie kept the caller on the phone for 45 minutes and took notes, which she later reported to the BBB and Indiana Attorney General's Office.

"He kept trying to convince me that it wasn’t a scam and he kept saying, 'Oh, I would not do anything to you like that.' He said, 'I used to be a minister,'" Guthrie said.

The caller told Guthrie that in order to claim her prize, she needed to go to a local Walmart or Walgreens store and get a ticket through Money Gram. She never followed those instructions and after she hung up, no one ever called her back.

"I was having fun with him because he really thought I was falling for it," Guthrie said.

Tim Maniscalo, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana, confirmed Guthrie's suspicions about the scam. He said that if she had gone to the store and called the scammer back, she would've been instructed to wire money in some way.

"All they’re trying to get you to do is pay $1,000 and you’re never going to hear from them again," Maniscalo said.

According to the Publishers Clearing House website, the company does not require any fees if you win a prize. Instead, your prize will be delivered free with "no strings attached."

If you get a call from someone claiming that you won a prize and instructing you to do something to claim it, especially if they want money or personal information, don't be afraid to hang up.

You can report the scam to the Better Business Bureau at this link and to the Indiana Attorney General's Office at this link.

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