Press release from the Better Business Bureau:
Reports to BBB Scam Tracker indicate scammers are still using Powerball Winner Manuel Franco’s name to send out text messages, social media messages, phone calls or emails informing people they’ve “been chosen” to receive free money from Franco.
Lottery scams like this make it seem as if you are about to receive a sudden financial windfall. But, instead, the people sending the messages are just phishing for your personal information or may even be after your money.
You may recall, Wisconsin resident Franco came forward in April 2019 to claim a $768 million lottery jackpot. Prior to winning the lottery, he was working at a Target store. After winning, he was known to personally hand out some gift cards to random shoppers.
“This scam involves impersonators attempting to lure in victims to steal their personal information,” said Julie Goodwin, BBB Serving Southern Piedmont and Western N.C. Regional Director. “This is dangerous. We’ve seen this before, and it will likely continue because con artists do what works for them.”
There has been an uptick in this scam being reported; 188 reports have been submitted to BBB Scam Tracker from consumers across the United States since 2019. In 2021 alone, there have been 175 submissions to date, an increase from the previous year (2020) of 733%. Total losses reported in this scam are more than $13,000.
L.M. of New Berlin reported to BBB Scam Tracker, “I was sent a message saying I was to receive $50,000 from Manuel Franco. I was tricked into giving my driver’s license number and SSN. I fell for this and I am really worried about what they might do.”
Juliana O’Rork of Charlotte reported, “I received a text saying ‘I’m Mr. Manuel Franco, the Powerball winner in the Powerball Millions Jackpot. Click here to see my winning interview. I’m donating $50,000 to 200 random individuals. If you get this message then your number was selected after a spin ball’…To verify your winners send a text to this number.”
A consumer from Colorado informed BBB that he lost $3,200 when he sent $200 to “activate his winnings”, and $3,000 for the I.R.S” as instructed in order to collect his winnings. He said he believed it, “Because of COVID I was desperate for money.”
BBB reminds people to protect themselves from impostor scams:
Be suspicious of irregular communications, especially via text, email or phone.
Don’t provide money or information to people that you don’t know or that promise you money in exchange. You will never have to pay upfront fees to claim a prize.
If you are asked to prove your identity, it’s a scam.
Always report scams to law enforcement or BBB Scam Tracker.