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Curious About Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes - Is it A Scam?

BOSTON (CBS) - You get them in the mail and see them on TV - a chance to win big with the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

But Dorothy isn't so trusting.

She Declared her Curiosity to WBZ-TV asking:

"Does anybody ever win the million dollar prize? Or is it a scam to get our email addresses?"

When we started checking, we learned that the "Prize Patrol" was heading our way, so we went along.

WBZ-TV's David Wade reports

Danielle Lam from the Prize Patrol visited the Attleboro home of Wendy and Steven Gould, with a huge, pretend check and a real one as well.

That's because Wendy won $10,000.

Her husband answered the door.

"You've got to be kidding," he said.

"People do win the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. In the past 20 years we've actually had two, million dollar winners here in Massachusetts," says Lam.

Joseph Lavita of Walpole won a million back in 1993, and Janice Wyner of Methuen did the same in 2006.

"Some people scream and jump and shout. Some people look like they're going to faint. Some people run away and then they come back," says Lam.

How did Wendy Gould handle it?

It turns out she was at work in Wellesley.

So after swearing Steven Gould to a vow of silence, the Prize Patrol headed to Wellesley to surprise Wendy.

"You just won $10,000," Lam exclaimed when she met Wendy.

Though delighted, Wendy didn't want to be on TV, so we couldn't interview her.

But off-camera she was certainly happy about her windfall.

Publishers Clearing House sells almost every magazine imaginable.

It also sells a lot of merchandise.

They insist you don't have to buy to win.

Wendy didn't spend a dime.

You can even enter the sweepstakes on line, every day.

But you'll face an onslaught of come-ons for knife sharpeners, massage pillows and leak fixers as well as offers for magazine after magazine.

And the odds of winning the biggest prize are long - one in nearly 2-billion.

You'll also give them your name, address and email, but you can opt out of receiving mailings from them.

And for the lucky few, they do award a lot of money.

"Over the years we've given away over $227 million," says the Prize Patrol's Lam.

One thing to watch out for is scammers claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House, but asking you to pay a fee before getting your winnings.

That's not legit, and the real sweepstakes doesn't do that.

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