Because it is so popular, Facebook is a frequent medium for transmitting scams. Recently, Kris White of Texas was scammed when she responded to a message on her Facebook page from one of her friends telling her that she had won a $250,000 prize in a Facebook Powerball lottery. She should have been skeptical for many reasons including the poor grammar and punctuation used in the notice of her selection, however she became convinced that the lottery was legitimate because it came accompanied by a document of authenticity signed by President Barack Obama. Upon responding to the message informing her of her lottery win, she was told to wire $750 to someone in South Africa to pay for the income taxes owed on her prize. She complied, but, as I am sure you predicted, she won nothing and lost $750.
Lottery and sweepstakes scams are very popular among scam artists because they work. Too often our greed blinds us to reality. It is difficult to win any lottery. It is impossible to win one that you never entered. In Ms. White’s case, the original message did not come from her Facebook friend, but rather from the scammer who had hacked into her friend’s Facebook account. Whenever you get an email, text message, Facebook message or phone call, you can never be sure who is sending the message. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. There is no Facebook Powerball Lottery and if she had investigated it on Google or Bing she would have quickly learned that fact. President Obama does not authenticate or endorse any lottery and his signature could easily be forged. You should always be wary when anyone asks you to wire money because that is the method of payment that scammers often use because it is impossible to get back once you have sent the money. As for wiring money to cover income taxes, why would you be wiring them to South Africa. That makes no sense. Finally, although income taxes are indeed owed on lottery winnings, the lottery sponsors never collect the income tax money from the winners. They either deduct the taxes from the winnings before distributing the prize or they distribute the entire prize and the responsibility for paying the income taxes is left to the lottery winner.