No, a lottery jackpot winner isn't giving you money. How to spot a scammer

Sorry, a Nigerian prince doesn't need your help with his fortune, you didn't just win a contest you never entered and, no, a jackpot lottery winner isn't going to just give you his money.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The old adage is worth remembering when you see posts on Instagram like "I’m Dave Johnson, the winner of the Powerball lottery with the winning amount of $298.3 million. I’m giving out $30,000 to my first 2k followers."

Yes, Dave Johnson, a former truck driver from Brooklyn, did win a $298.3 million Powerball jackpot in 2018. But if you check out social media there sure are a lot of people with names like "dave_johnson23051" or "dave__johnson03" looking to give you money. A quick search of Instagram revealed at least 30 such accounts.

It might look convincing with photos of smiling people with wads of cash or holding signs like "Thanks, Dave Johnson." But beware, it's a scam.

More: Influencer Jay Mazini found fame on social media. Did he use that fame to swindle millions?

And it's not just Dave Johnson. Similar scams reportedly popped up after Tammy and Cliff Webster of Wisconsin won $316.3 million in the Powerball earlier this year and Scott Godfrey of California won $699.8 million in 2021.

Tammy and Cliff Webster, of Wisconsin, claimed a Powerball ticket that won a $316 million jackpot.
Tammy and Cliff Webster, of Wisconsin, claimed a Powerball ticket that won a $316 million jackpot.

Whether it's through emails, text messages or social media, someone looking to give you a fortune is just looking to make a fortune by scamming you and others looking to get rich quick.

The ruse is nothing new, but criminals now use social media too. The scammers will ask for personal information like your driver's license, social security number or banking account information or say they need a processing fee or tax money before they can "send you $30,000." The New York State Gaming Commission says, "'Processing fees' are a myth. Do not send anyone this money."

"These scams all have one thing in common," Mega Millions officials warn. "They try to trick you into sending them money or personal information ... They often target older people and have been known to wipe out victims’ retirement savings."

Powerball officials say: "If you are asked to pay a fee to claim a prize, you are likely being scammed, and you should not share any personal or banking information with those entities."

The Mega Millions website offers advice on how to avoid being scammed:

  • "If someone says you have won a lottery that you have never played, be suspicious. You can’t win a lottery if you didn’t buy a ticket.

  • "If you have caller-ID on your phone, check the area code when someone calls to tell you you’ve won. If it is from a foreign country, that is a red flag.

  • "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.

  • "Just because a real lottery is mentioned does not necessarily make it a real prize.

  • "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. Instead of calling it, you should look up the name of the lottery or organization on your own to find out its real contact information.

  • "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."

If you suspect fraudulent activity, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or on the FTC website:

This article originally appeared on How to spot a Powerball, Mega Millions lottery winner scam