MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin consumer protection specialists say they've been getting hotline calls about a sweepstakes scam.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says residents across the state say they've been getting calls from people claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House. The suspected scammers tell them they've won a sweepstakes prize and ask for an upfront fee payable with a pre-paid debit card.

The state says potential victims are directed to pick up and pay for a Green Dot MoneyPak debit card from a retail or drug store in order to transfer the fee.

Consumer protection officials say scammers choose pre-paid debit cards and wire transfers as ways for victims to send them money because the transactions are difficult to trace and nearly impossible to reverse.