David J. Sablan was working at home around 12:30 p.m. on Friday when he received a call on his landline.

"The caller said, 'You won $5 million and a brand new Mercedes-Benz,' " Sablan said. "The man on the line introduced himself as 'James Johnson' from Publishers Clearing House."

The caller number was 876-372-0318, Sablan said.

Publishers Clearing House is known for its sweepstakes program that surprises winners on their doorsteps with oversized checks of $1 million or more while TV cameras are rolling.

Sablan said he told the man he did not register with them so there's no way he won their sweepstakes.

"The man said no registration is required because they randomly selected 500 people from the Guam phone directory and my name was picked," Sablan told The Guam Daily Post on Monday. "Throughout the call, he's congratulating me and asked me how I feel about this life-changing experience. I said I'm happy if that's true."

Sablan said he made sure that he responded with "if that's true," since there were a lot of red flags during the phone call.

"PCH sweepstakes are confined only to Canada and the 50 states of the USA. They do not go outside of these countries, even if Guam is part of the USA," Sablan said.

He believes the call was an attempt to determine how gullible a person is.

"If you're really excited and not thinking straight, you become an easy target. I believe if you are very excited, they will talk to you over the phone on how to receive your prize winnings," Sablan said. "If you are the cautious type, like a doubting Thomas, they will complete the call with you and that's the end of the scam, because they ain't coming to your house at all."

On Monday morning, Sablan said he reported the phone call to the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. The AG's Office was sought for comment.

Sablan said he hopes that by sharing his experience, others will be able to protect themselves from this "phone scam."

During the Friday call, he said "James Johnson" passed the phone to another person, who introduced herself as an attorney for Publishers Clearing House, confirming the award.

The lawyer said the awards team just flew in to Guam on a private jet a couple of hours ago to present the prize to him, Sablan said.

"James Johnson" also told him that the awards team will be at his house within the hour as the team was in Barrigada.

No one showed up, and Sablan knew nobody would.

"I think they realized I'm not that gullible and I wasn't excited as they hoped I would be," he said.

Sablan said Publishers Clearing House "never ever calls big-money winners, even to let them know they're coming over to your house."

"They just show up at your door to excite you on the spot," he said. "For such a big prize, they may invite the media to let them know they're coming over to your house."

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert


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