Better Business Bureau is warning the public of official-looking letters supposedly sent from Publishers Clearing House that state the recipient has won a grand prize drawing of $1 million.

The letters claim the recipient has won $1 million as the second place winner of a drawing sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine.

They also include a check for as much as $5,900 and instructions to call a representative named in the fake letter.

In order to receive the prize, the consumer is then instructed to cash the check and wire approximately $4,000 to Publishers Clearing House to receive the rest of the winnings.

The checks have proven fraudulent. Money sent by wire transfers cannot be recovered. Officials say the letters are part of a widespread scam across the country.

The fake letters have shown up in mailboxes in 19 states including California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin since early March.

This scam comes on the heels of a legitimate Publishers Clearing House award to a woman who will receive $5,000 a week for life.

Not only have the letters come to mailboxes, but also some people have reported phone calls from scammers pretending to represent Publishers Clearing House.

"The most obvious indication that this is a scam is that people are being given a check, and then asked to wire a portion of it to claim their prize," said Kim States, Tucson BBB president, "Consumers should never wire money to an unknown individual or company."

If you receive this letter, contact your BBB at 888-5353.

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