Verify: Is a Powerball winner giving away millions?

A viewer received an email offering her a grant for two million dollars from the Julie Leach Foundation, but was it legitimate?

QUESTION:

Is an email saying "I’m a 2 million dollar grant winner from the Julie Leach Foundation," a real 2015 lottery winner, real?

ANSWER:

This email is one of numerous internet lottery scams and the FBI warns not to trust emails that you weren’t expecting or didn’t initiate.

SOURCES:

Matthew Drake, Assistant Special Agent in-Charge Washington Field Office Cyber Branch

RESOURCES:

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center

Scamalot.com

Powerball, Multi-State Lottery Association

PROCESS:

Through some initial research we discovered Julie Leach is a real millionaire—in fact, she won a $310.5 million Powerball Jackpot in 2015 fin Michigan. Julie, a former factory employee, immediately retired after discovering her winning ticket, and decided to take her cash in one-lump sum of $140 million after taxes.

A quick Google Search brings you to forums claiming the Julie Leach Foundation is an email scam intended to steal sensitive financial information. Before distributing the money, the scammers say they need your name, address, cell number, passport or driver’s license, etc.

Verify called Julie Leach to see if she knew her name was exploited for this scam. We even tried calling her relatives, but all their lines are disconnected.  

The FBI warns people that if you ever receive an email claiming you won a lottery you never entered or asking you to transfer funds, not to fall for the trap.

“Everybody likes free money…and this is not as straight forward as ‘hey I’ve got five-thousand dollars for you and I’d like to send it to you,” FBI Cyber Specialist Matthew Drake said.  “I think most people would recognize that there’s something going on there.”

If you have already submitted sensitive information there are immediate actions to take, as scammers can plunder your financial accounts almost instantly.

“Run a virus scanner just to make sure there’s no malicious software on there and then change any of your passwords and make sure they’re good password… different passwords for all the different accounts you have,” Drake said. “You then want to contact any of your credit card companies, have them issue you new cards…any other accounts that you think might be compromised reach out to those vendors and make sure they’re aware of what’s happening.”

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