TURNER — It had been a long, painful year for Sher Blevins and she really could have used that $3.5 million. 

When a man who claimed to be from Publishers Clearing House called her Wednesday to report the winnings, it sure sounded like the real thing. 

“I had entered the contest numerous times,” Blevins said Thursday. “They said they were bringing the news media and that I’d be presented with a check for $3.5 million. These people are so convincing that my heart almost skipped a beat.” 

Blevins’ hope and excitement was short-lived, however. Once the thrill of that first call ebbed a bit, she started paying closer attention and things just didn’t add up.  

“At the end of the conversation they asked for $2,500,” Blevins said. “And I said, no. This is a scam.” 

You can imagine the crushing disappointment. For Blevins, good news would have been a refreshing change after a year that has been bleak and depressing. 

In December 2019, Blevins’ husband went to the hospital with a pain in his side. He was diagnosed with cancer and just 12 days later, he was dead. 

“And then Christmas came and after that, the pandemic,” Blevins said. “We haven’t even had a ceremony for him yet.” 

Blevins managed through the bleak winter, still shaken by the death of her husband. Then in the spring, her pet tortoise Godzilla slipped out of the house while Blevins was distracted by firefighters battling a woods fire near her home. 

Godzilla was eventually found and returned to her, but for Blevins, all of the upheaval of the previous year left her rattled. 

Then, came that phone call and the prospect of winning millions. If only it were the real thing. 

Not that the people behind the scam didn’t try. 

The phone calls kept coming. The caller, identifying himself as one David Goodman of Publishers Clearing House, insisted that he was heading to Blevins’ Turner home Wednesday night with a big fat check. 

By then, Blevins said, she was told that they’d accept a mere $150 for a processing fee before handing over the check. 

Blevins said no again. By then, she had been doing her own research and she knew that legitimate winners of the contest were not asked for money up front. 

The calls kept coming. 

“I said, David, you need to stop calling because this is not real,” Blevins said. “He said, ‘oh, no. It’s real. Trust me, sweetheart. I’m a Christian.'” 

Blevins laughs a bit at this. 

“I said, ‘I’m a Christian too,'” she said. “And I’m certainly not stupid. I’m not paying you any money to receive money.” 

On Thursday morning, she got another call. This time the Publishers Clearing House crew was right down the road in Lewiston and would be at Blevins’ home by 10:30 a.m. The Sun Journal was coming with a photo crew, she was told. It was going to be a big deal. 

But 10:30 came and went and the Publishers Clearing House didn’t show. No balloons, no press crew, no comically oversized check with $3.5 million scrawled upon it. 

Blevins was not surprised. Just to put the matter to rest one last time, she called the Sun Journal and asked if they were preparing to send a photo crew to Turner to record the excitement of a contest winner. 

They were not, an editor told her. David Goodman had made up that part, too. 

The calls were still coming later in the day Thursday. At one point, Blevins’ son snatched the phone and demanded “in no uncertain terms,” that the caller leave his mother alone. 

David Goodman waited a few minutes and called back, anyway. He even transferred Blevins to his “general manager” and to an “attorney” named Sara Lee. 

Blevins was exasperated.  

“I told him, go ahead and come,” she said. “Just drop on in. I’ve got a whole house full of people here waiting.” 

Go figure. Nobody showed. 

At this point, Blevins would be more than happy to put the whole, disappointing drama behind her. But deep down, she knows that there are people out there — people who are hurting and desperate for good news — will fall for the scam. 

“I just don’t want to see anybody else fall for this,” Blevins said. 

The Publishers Clearing House scam is well known by police officials across the country. The real people of the Publishers Clearing House know this and say they are very careful about how they approach winners of their contest. 

They never call or email, for one thing. If somebody has won the big bucks, the PCH crew will show up in person to announce the news. 

And they never ask for money up front. 

“If someone contacts you claiming to be from PCH, and tells you that you’ve won a prize then asks you to send a payment or money card in order to claim the prize, STOP!” according to the PCH website. “You have not heard from the real PCH.” 

For Blevins, it’s all water under the bridge now. Although there were a few minutes of excitement at the beginning of the sordid ordeal, she sniffed out the scam pretty quick. 

As for David Goodman and his sidekick Sara Lee, by the end of the day Thursday, they were still no-shows. 


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