On Your Side Alert: Warning about fake lottery email

Published: Jun. 18, 2014 at 10:06 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2014 at 9:48 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

An email that's been arriving in inboxes lately claims recent lottery winners want to give you some of their winnings. We discovered the winners are real but the email is fake.

It's one of the latest scams popping up in Central Virginia inboxes. The email claims to be from Jim McCullar. It says he's won $190 million in the Mega Millions drawing and wants to voluntarily give you $2 million. The sender provides a YouTube link so you can see Jim and his wife accepting all the cash. The email even comes with a so-called donation code.

Our computer expert, Kevin Boynton of The Computer Doctor of Richmond  says there is a catch. McCullar really did win $190 million and the YouTube page is legitimate, but the email is a fraud. McCullar and his wife may be nice people, but they are certainly not randomly emailing folks offering millions of dollars. 

"If you fall for it and go along with it, they are going to say, 'All right, we need to transfer these funds into your bank account,'" Boynton said. "And if you give them the bank account number, now they have got that information. Or more importantly, they will say, 'We can transfer it into this other bank account that we have set up for you but you need to send several hundred or several thousand dollars to release those funds to you."

No matter how tempting, don't reply. A quick search of the web shows other people have been targets of this email scheme.

"If there was no money in it, the crooks wouldn't be doing it, so people unfortunately continue to fall for it," Boynton said. "Just like they continue to fall for fake tech support companies online."

These types of emails will never mean it's your lucky day. If you want to win the lottery, you'll have to play like everyone else and buy a ticket at a legitimate retailer.

"The only person that is going to get rich if you play along is the scam artist, not you. You are just going to get taken," said Boynton.

On its website, Mega Millions provides safety tips and warns about lottery scams. It advises consumers to report cases likes this to the Federal Trade Commission.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.