/ Money

Scam watch: lured by ‘lottery winner’ on Instagram

An Instagram account has been sending private messages promising $50,000 of lottery winnings to its first 50k followers. It’s a scam, and this is how it works.

Carl got in touch with us to let us know he’d been sent a private message on photo-sharing app Instagram. It read:

“I’m Julie Leach the powerball winner of $310,500,000. I’m giving out $50,000 to the first 50k followers and to those in need of help”

There are pictures of a lady collecting the winning cheque on the account itself.

Julie Leach was a genuine lottery winner in the US in 2015. Her name and image have since been abused by scammers via email and on social media.

Fraudsters often use genuine news stories and events to add plausibility to their story. In January, scammers were posing as EuroMillions winners Frances and Patrick Connolly on Twitter.

Multiple Instagram accounts

Our cursory search of Instagram revealed 20 accounts bearing the name ‘Julie Leach’ alongside promotional images of the genuine Julie Leach collecting her winnings.

The account that messaged Carl was still active and had doubled its follower numbers. We tried to report it via Instagram’s reporting tool, but found there was no specific category for scam accounts.

When we instead tried to report it as ‘impersonation of a public figure’, we were unable to do so unless we provided the genuine account username of the real Julie Leach.

Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) has confirmed that scams and fraud should be reported as ‘spam’. A Facebook spokesperson said:

“We are aware of this issue and will continue to look into this matter to disable any accounts in violation of our policies. The account you spotted has now been removed for violating Facebook’s community guidelines”

Impersonation of celebrities on social media

As our investigation has shown, scams impersonating celebrities on social media continue to crop up regularly.

The observation that this account had doubled its followers in an important one – more often than not accounts like this are sold on then rebranded and renamed once they’ve accrued a large audience.

This then makes its following vulnerable to whatever content the new owners may choose to post, including scams.

If you’ve spotted this scam or anything similar, make sure you report it. If you’re concerned that you may have given your bank details to scammers, contact your bank immediately.

You can also read our guide on getting your money back after a scam.

Have you spotted fraud like this on Instagram? If so, get in touch and help warn people in the comments.

Comments
Bunchesofos says:
26 July 2020

If Instagram FB Snapchat can delete the accounts of rich politics and Farrakhan for high profile cases and/or anti semetic bigotry they can’t cancel these scam accounts. Ive been looking at Mavis lottery scam for two yrs and I reported them many times. There’s SO MANY signs that’ll tell u it’s a scam. Main thing is them wanting YOU to give them money or gift cards and also if you’re FILTHY rich why should I pay you . Also notice they barely have any comments on their pages. That’s because they delete the comments that expose them.

RST Million says:
30 July 2020

Julie messaged me on Instagram so I searched her up and this is what I found.

Shawn Adam's says:
30 July 2020

She is also on the cam streaming app bigo.. under the same name ..

Homa says:
12 August 2020

Thank you for writing this article. I am new to Instagram and have started a small business account in arts/designing, so without your input, I wouldn’t really know if this was a scam… I would have thought this was someone who wanted to support artists…I reported the account as spam…

Millicent Marks says:
25 August 2020

For me this article is way too late

Michael Aldana says:
21 August 2020

I received a message from someone using JulieLeach5229 for the exact scam stated in this article. They promised the same thing, asked for info, sent that info to a FedEx agent holding the winnings. Luckily, I looked up the person’s name and read the comments here and on another article. I stopped communication, reported the account, blocked, and restricted the IG profile from contacting me. I was being offered $45k this month for being a fortuitous person to whom they chose to receive $310,5000,000 In Powerball.

Jaime Acosta says:
2 September 2020

These two women are currently doing the same to me in instagram right now!

Robert Doerr says:
5 September 2020

I am being scam by julie leach on Instagram and hangouts [edited] they already sent 100 dollars to here Agent and he wanted 300 more for delivery of the package for 50 thousand can u check here out on Instagram thanks

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove personal contact details. Please don’t post yours or others’ contact details, as this is for everyone’s safety and privacy. For more information see our Community guidelines]

Robert – Ignore “Julie Leach” and related impostors completely. None of what you read is the truth. Blot the scam out of your mind. There is no way you or any other UK citizen can make any money at all – let alone get rich – by doing what the messages say. Constant pestering is annoying, I know, but, believe it or not, you have not been personally selected to receive anything; it is just a ploy to get hold of your money and you will get nothing in return.

For your own privacy and security I am asking the moderators to edit your phone number out of your comment.

Brad Saunders says:
12 September 2020

I got a message from a Julie Leach saying that iwas picked my electoral manchine on instagram. and all i had to do was call the fedex agent cell phone at 1 650 684 7172 or text on hangout judsonkertzmann@gmail.com. they said to text him my full name so he could check their fedex database to approve my winning package.

Yes Julie Leach on Instagram is a fraud and asking for a 💯dollars to ship it or cash app Babe1247 scam Scam scam