This weekend, Megamillions' jackpot should eclipse $1.25 billion and is giving scammers another chance to scam every windfall wisher in the U.S.
Leading cybercrime nonprofit organization, Cybercrime Support Network (CSN) is offering up a few warning signs people should be aware of when “winning” the lottery:
- Suddenly receive a call or email saying that you’ve won but have never played the lottery before? SCAM.
- Getting a call or an email saying that there is a fee to pay in order to collect winnings? SCAM.
- Being asked for personal information like a Social Security number or bank account number? SCAM.
- Getting contacted about winning a foreign lottery and needing help to collect the money? SCAM.
Don't forget “Mavis Wanczyk," either
Email scams exploiting the name of lottery winner “Mavis Wanczyk” – the woman who won $758 million in 2017 – have resurfaced, too, trying to mega-sucker consumers hoping to cash in.
According to Scamacide’s Steve Weisman, the emails being sent out claim to be from Mrs. Wanczyk, who’s supposedly offering donations to five random individuals whose emails were supposedly selected after a "spin ball." The email provides a supposed "donation code" and instructs the recipient to reply with the code to the given email address.
Another possible – and far worse – “Mavis” scam that popped up when other lottery prizes were off the chart claims that Mavis has launched a donation program on behalf of her late husband, one that pitches a raffle that offers millions in winnings.
Email recipients are asked to reply with their full name, email address, phone number, and occupation. Like plumbers and teachers are going to have a better shot of winning, right?
There’s no harm in buying a few quick picks, but Wanczyk isn't helping you
Weisman said that it’s crucial to remember the following tips to avoid falling victim to scams like the Wanczyk email one:
Winning a lottery you have entered is already challenging, but it is entirely impossible to win a lottery you never participated in. Legitimate lottery winners or organizations do not distribute messages over the internet, offering free money in exchange for personal information.
Never divulge personal information that could make you vulnerable to identity theft unless you have thoroughly verified the legitimacy of the party requesting the information and their need for it.
Legitimate lotteries do not require winners to pay any fees to claim their prizes. If a lottery claims you owe fees to receive your winnings, it is undoubtedly a scam.
While income taxes are applicable to lottery winnings, legitimate lottery sponsors deduct those taxes before awarding the prize. Alternatively, they provide the prize in full, and the responsibility for paying any taxes lies with the winner. No lottery collects taxes on behalf of the IRS.
In conclusion, remember that neither Mavis Wanczyk nor any other lottery winner is in the practice of giving away money to strangers. Stay cautious and vigilant to protect yourself from falling victim to scams.