MURRAY – It appears there is a new scam circulating, mostly through Facebook, that identifies itself as the Mega Cash lottery game, but that is misleading. This scam also uses the names “United States National Lottery,” “Mega Millions International Lottery,” “Mega Millions Mobile Lottery,” “USA UK Mega Millions Lottery, and “Mega Millions Corporation.” According to local sources and the Mega Millions website, these so-called entities do not exist. Mega Millions is a game, not an organization.
Apparently, the way this works is a “friend” on Facebook or Instagram will contact you saying they are a prior jackpot winner and are sharing their prize money. Basically, they are trying to trick people into sending them money and personal information by claiming you have won a large lottery prize. They often target senior citizens.
If the person is convinced they have won a prize, the scammers will try to get the person to wire money for “taxes” or “fees.” They may also ask for a bank account number or will send the winner a bogus check and ask the winner to send money back to cover expenses. After the victim sends their own money, they find out the check is counterfeit.
Apparently, this has happened to a few local senior citizens in our community, according to several members of the Murray-Calloway County Senior Citizens Center and they want to warn citizens about these scams.
Mega Millions stresses that the only way to win Mega Millions is to purchase a ticket from an American lottery. If you haven’t purchased a ticket, you haven’t won. And there is never a fee to claim a real lottery prize.
It also appears that somehow through Facebook, the scammers figure out who is friends on Facebook and will message saying they are a friend (name) and in one such instance, the “friend” convinced someone that taxes had to be paid on the winnings and the winnings would be paid to them in cash in order to not interfere with their social security payments or medicare benefits. They asked them to use their finances to pay the taxes up front and then they would send them the cash or split the money with them.
Also, according to a publication warning people of scams on Facebook, the friend will say that they saw their “friends” name on a winners’ list of people entitled to the cash bonus when they were signing their winning document and wondered if the “friend” knew they had won. They will even provide a phone number to text the “agent” to claim the money.
None of these are legitimate and are causing those who fall for these scams to loose quite a bit of money, some, in fact, their life savings.
There are several warning signs that everyone should be aware of:
• If someone says you have won a lottery that you have never played, be suspicious. You can’t win a legitimate lottery if you didn’t buy a ticket.
• Real lotteries do not hold “international” sweepstakes, contests or awards for people who live outside their market area.
• If you have called ID on your phone, check the area code when someone calls. If it is from a foreign country, that is a red flag. But be aware that con artists use technology that allows them to disguise their area code.
• Be suspicious if an email contains misspellings or poor grammar, or if the person who called you uses poor English.
• If you are told that you need to keep your “win” confidential, be suspicious.
• No real lottery tells winners to put up their own money in order to collect a prize they have already won. If you are asked to pay any kind of fee to collect your winnings, you haven’t won.
• If they offer to wire the “winnings” directly into your bank account, do not give them your bank account information.
• If you are told that you can “verify” the prize by calling a certain number, that number may be part of the scam.
• If you think someone on the phone is trying to scam you, hang up immediately. If you engage them in conversation, your name and contact information could end up on a list that’s shared with other scammers.
To most, this may seem to be something impossible to pull off, but it has already happened to a few of our fellow citizens in Calloway County. Those who are dealing with these victims say it often times comes from them being lonely and needing attention and thus, the reason why senior citizens are targeted.
The best advice is to again remember, if you did not buy a lottery ticket or play a lottery game, you cannot win.
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