CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - For millions of Americans now living without paychecks, a five-figure cash giveaway could be enticing. An old scam is circling back during this latest financial crisis.
It’s been two years since food service manager Richard Wahl won a Mega Millions jackpot worth $533 million. Since his win, scam artists claiming to be Wahl have set up fake social media accounts offering cash giveaways to followers. If only a couple of them were real... Wahl would have given all his money away several times over.
Accounts in the name Richard Wahl showed up on Facebook and Twitter almost immediately, using official pictures from his introduction with the New Jersey Lottery. As other social media platforms grow, so does the number of “Richard Wahl” accounts.
A search of the name Richard Wahl on Instagram turns up at least 60 fake accounts. The accounts offer various giveaways such as $5,000 through his charity, or $30,000 to one lucky winner. One account even makes a very generous offer of $50,000 to the first 20,000 followers. The math doesn’t really work out because that would be $1 billion which is almost twice the amount Wahl won in the first place.
Richard Wahl accounts are now appearing on TikTok too and the message is the same. A search turns up 50 Richard Wahl profiles on the video app. These come with videos from people claiming to be winners and clearly sound like they are reading from a script.
The nuts and bolts of the scam are always the same. The scammer gets some personal information such as name, birthday, and address. Then he claims the money is on its way. You will have to pay the courier, typically from FedEx, and the common form of payment is by a gift card.
If you pay, you lose that money and you don’t ever get a check from the supposed multi-millionaire. A tough time financially gets even tougher.
If you encounter this scam, report the account to the social media site and also to the FBI at ic3.gov.
If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org.