JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Winning the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes has always been a dream for Joyce and Carl Weathington.
"Our home could be paid for. My daughters house could have been paid for," said Joyce.
This week, that dream almost came true. Joyce received a phone call Wednesday from a man who claimed the couple would soon receive a $400,000 prize.
"He knew our address, and that we entered the sweepstakes a few years ago. He said they have been backed up and that our name was just pulled. He was very convincing."
The man instructed them to buy a gift card from a local store and load it with $315 to cover shipping and handling expenses. He then told the Weathingtons he would stop by their home a few hours later to pick up the card, in exchange for a suitcase filled with cash.
The Weathingtons weren't convinced, however. Carl is a former law enforcement reserve officer, who decided to launch his own investigation.
He call JSO and the Publisher's Clearing House scam alert line to report the call.
"They confirmed my suspicions that it was a scam. You don't pay money up front to get money."
Publisher's Clearing House confirms scammers are posing as well-known members of the Prize Patrol to take advantage of innocent people with big dreams.
The sweepstakes warns consumers via their website that actual winners will never be contacted in advance and never have to pay to claim their prize.
"Just please think before you get excited," Joyce now warns others. "If I didn't stop and think I'd probably be right there with them."