Lottery Scams Make Their Way to Instagram
As of April 2014, there has been an influx of scammers popping up on Instagram. These accounts have been created using actual lottery winners’ names and photographs. These accounts then encourage their followers to share posts, reveal personal information, and they even go so far as to ask for money!
These scam artists use winners from the UK and the US and the accounts will offer you $1,000 USD to every Instagram user who will follow them, and comment on their photos with their email address.
These phony accounts have been able to dupe thousands of followers. In the case of Merle Butler, the account has gotten over 100k followers!
The Plot Thickens
Once the accounts have gotten a certain amount of followers, the lottery winner’s “accountant” starts contacting the “winners” followers. These “accountants” state that they are tasked with distributing the winnings—with one caveat. The recipient only has to send them $0.99 to cover the postage.
Now 99 cents doesn’t seem like a lot on the recipient’s end—which it isn’t. However, multiply that amount by however many followers, that is a quick payday. Why, for MerleButlerAccountant, that is $21k!
The Gullible are…. Gullible.
You cannot necessarily blame people for wanting to cash in on someone’s “kind gesture,” but… It’s
a little discerning to see how many people are more than willing to divulge their personal information—especially so publicly.
Periodically, these scam accounts underwent an account pivot. That means the avatar, biography, and the user’s name were changed so that the account could be protected from being flagged for spamming. By doing this, it allowed scammers to keep using the account.
After the account pivot, the fake accounts reappeared and the imposter claimed the account was hacked and asked the followers to be patient.
In the case of Kelsey Zachow, that impersonator is going so far as to ask for their followers to provide their PayPal account address, which is a huge red flag! (I hope everyone who does have a PayPal uses a secondary security key, for that extra protection!)
Lottery Winner Speak Out!
Now you may be wondering what the real lottery winners have to say about their names and photographs being used for this scam.
Merle Butler has issued a statement that he will NOT be giving his millions to strangers on the internet and will be contacting his lawyer. He is even going so far as contacting the FBI and having them handle the problem.
Remember The Golden Rule:
Remember folks, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never give out your personal information, especially on such a public forum as Instagram! You never know who will get their hands on it!