Identity theft scheme informs victims that they won Powerball

June 5th, 2014 at 4:30 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

There’s a new scheme aimed at stealing your identity by first informing you that you have won a Powerball jackpot and I experienced it first-hand.

I was just finishing a breakfast meeting Thursday when I started receiving text messages from a number I didn’t recognize..

“Hello is that Jim Shella,” said the first message.  It went on to say, “You are one of our Powerball lottery lucky winners.”

We showed it to Deputy Attorney General Terry Tolliver who said, “That looks like a scam to me.”

Initially, I figured as much, but wanted to find out more.  Once I replied to the text the questions started.

“What is your facebook screen name for confirmation?”  was the first.

“What they’ll do is they’ll ask for the signon name,” said Tolliver, “and then as you get more comfortable they’ll continue to ask for personal information.”

I texted to ask who was on the other end.  “This is Agent Paul the delivery consultant for Powerball,” came the answer.

He said I won $26,500 and when I said I had no ticket, he replied, “There is no winning ticket to confirm this.”

At that point I had enough.  “I’m a reporter,” I texted.  “Do you want to be in a story?”

“What do you mean by that?” was the answer.  “Are you ready to claim your winning money.”

There was no giving up.

“They’ll ask your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, as much information as they can get,” said Tolliver, “so they can either steal your identity or sell the information.”

Of course, I stopped responding, but four hours later Agent Paul texted me again to see if I was more willing to play along.

“The best advice when you receive something like that,” said Tolliver, “is just delete it.”

And if you have any questions call the attorney general.

This particular approach is something the Attorney General’s office had not seen previously.  But the folks there say they see similar schemes every day that inform people they have won Publisher’s Clearinghouse or some other sweepstakes, anything to get a response.

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