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Scammers posing as California Powerball winner to defraud victims

Posted at 7:57 AM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 10:57:08-04

A warning about fraudulent messages and social media posts.

Scammers are using a Central Coast Powerball winner's name and his interview with San Luis Obispo-based KSBY in fake giveaway schemes to dupe victims out of money.

Tami Paris is one of many people who have reached out to KSBY after receiving a suspicious e-mail saying in part, "You have a donation of $3,500,000 from Scott Godfrey who had won the $699.8 million Powerball lottery."

If this sounds familiar, you've likely been targeted by scammers posing as Scott Godfrey.

"I thought it's too good to be true," says Paris.

It is too good to be true.

Paris was scrolling on Facebook when she saw a post asking people to comment if and why they need financial assistance.

The scammer was posing as someone working for Scott Godfrey, the man who bought the winning Powerball ticket for the drawing worth nearly $700 million in Morro Bay.

I spoke exclusively with Godfrey last year. He told me he was going to use his winnings to help those in need. Since then, crooks have used his name and good intentions to scam vulnerable victims.

"We're all just (trying to) struggle. We don't need anybody ripping us off, stealing our money," says Paris.

In between jobs and needing money to fix her home, Paris responded to the Facebook post. In came the emails with a link to a website mentioning our story about Godfrey, so she reached out to us.

"I investigated this and if I would've fallen for it, I would've been out some more money that I really can't afford to lose right now."

This month alone, KSBY has received multiple calls and emails from people across the U.S. asking about this scam.

Carolyn Becker, a spokesperson for the California Lottery, says, "It actually doesn't surprise me that you're seeing more this month than maybe when you first reported our big win because it's tax season."

Tax season is a ripe time for fraudulent activities.

Aside from messages we've received, a look at the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker shows two more reports about a similar scam using Godfrey's name and asking for personal information.

Becker warns, "Never, ever give out your credit card information, your Social Security number, your bank account numbers. All of that is personal, sensitive information that we should all be protecting."

The California Lottery says to be suspicious of "urgent" solicitations that suggest you need to act immediately.

"If you think you are being scammed or being targeted by a potential scammer, there are steps you can take including calling your local authorities but also calling us at the lottery," says Becker.

The Lottery has a customer service phone line, 1-800-LOTTERY, for people to call if they see fraudulent activity and/or need assistance with a claim.

You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

As for Tami Paris, she has a message to crooks who are taking advantage of vulnerable victims like her.

"I hope you get caught. I hope you get fined. And I hope you do a little bit of time for it."

Scott Godfrey told KSBY, he has given money away to help institutions that serve homeless and hunger needs and never to individuals.

MORE RESOURCES FROM THE FTC:

  • How to avoid a scam: Recognizing these common signs of a scam could help you avoid falling for one.
  • What to do if you were scammed: Find out what to do if you paid someone you think is a scammer, gave them some personal information, or if they have access to your phone or computer.