Perhaps it is due to the financial strain so many people are under during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic, but recently I have received many emails from Scamicide readers telling me about various new incarnations of a variety of scams that share the same hook which is that Mavis Wanczyk is giving money away to lucky people. Many of you may not remember the name of Mavis Wanczyk, but she was the lucky winner of a 758 million dollar Powerball drawing in 2017. Not long after she claimed her prize, a scam started appearing in which many people received emails with the message line referring to the Mavis Wanczyk Cash Grant. The email indicated that you were chosen to receive a large cash grant from Mavis Wanczyk. All the lucky strangers receiving the emails had to do was provide personal information in order to qualify for the grant. In addition, phony social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were also set up in Ms. Wanczyk’s name through which people were contacted with the same phony offer of free money informing them that in order to qualify for the grant they merely needed to provide personal information.
Now the scam appears to be resurfacing in a wide variety of scams around the world including one where French speaking people are getting emails in French purportedly from Ms. Wanczyk offering money for nothing. The scams are also appearing in large numbers through various Instagram accounts and as fast as Instagram closes down one phony Mavis Wanczyk account, another pops up. A Scamicide reader noted that one of the recent phony Instagram accounts purporting to be that of Mavis Wanczyk is maviswanczyk3gs. Many of the versions of this scam now circulating promise $20,000 in return for payments to cover administrative costs. In another creative version of the scam, the targeted victim is told that he would receive $20,000 delivered in person within 24 hours, but shortly thereafter receives a text message in which he is told that there is a delay because money is needed for gas and administrative costs to process the necessary paper work. This text message was followed up by another text message in which the targeted victim is told that the person delivering the check was stopped by an FBI agent and that another fee had to be paid. Why an FBI agent would be involved or require an additional payment is certainly unclear.
It is difficult to win a lottery you have entered. It is impossible to win one that you have never entered and neither lottery winners, nor anyone else is sending out messages through the Internet offering free money to anyone who responds with personal information. Never give out personal information that can make you vulnerable to identity theft unless you have absolutely verified that the party requesting the personal information is legitimate and has a legitimate need for the information. Also never pay anything to a lottery claiming you owe fees in order to claim your prize. This is a telltale sign of a scam. No legitimate lottery requires the payment of a fee to collect your winnings or requires you to pay the lottery income taxes on the prize. While income taxes are due on lottery winnings, those taxes are either deducted by the lottery sponsor before giving you your prize or the prize is given to you in full and you are responsible for the payment of any taxes. No lottery collects taxes on behalf of the IRS.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
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