/ 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.

David magarrell says:
27 April 2020

Julie leach is trying to scam me even as i write this

Carin Røed Hansen says:
10 May 2020

Here as well. There are so many out there. What is worse is that Instagram dont do anything about it. No way to report, even when you screenshot what they wrote you, Ome get really p*ssed of, when you tell them what they are scammer. I have been told what I am a few time.

Ashley says:
12 May 2020

She is trying to scam me right now too! Saying a FedEx agent named James Kowaleski (sent picture of badge) needs information from me in order to send the winnings. Why would a FedEx agent be in charge of sending out the winnings?! Typically that would be the job of a lawyer or a bank or something I would think. I told him he was a scam and that I have google and it is all over the place and he wrote back – “This is real and legit, though we have lots of spammers trying to abuse and mess it around, but with the back up of the FBI and Anti Spam Agents, its totally safe since its always impossible for them to skip through.” Haha this does not sound legit at all to me, so thank you for whoever wrote this article.

And she trying to scam me as I write this. On june 10th 2020. Smfh

I’m trying to tell her to leave me alone and it’s happening to me right now on Instagram

Gigi says:
2 July 2020

Same here.. june 2 2020

Hello Iive right now on Instagram is with me asking exactly what this is all about being baited. I get to be given 50k…. And so on.. Well this will be done fun since I had a hunch quickly to dig in deep and validate whom this person was in 2015.. Why in 2020 in a Pandemic would someone give their money away?? Smelled a fish no doubt. Let me bust this case. I’ll provide all on Instagram what they are asking. I love shining the Light where Darkness lurks. Stay safe out there. Keep your intuitive mind alert, it’s never wrong to feel things real or Fake!!

Thank you appreciate it very much she is on Twitter to under same name holding up the check stating the same thing ..

Brends Owens says:
7 May 2020

I got a.friend rewuedt on Facebook from some who calls her self Julie Leach and she wants to give me $100.000 just to be
her friend .. If you need you can get back to me…Thanks

Sandy Sachs says:
24 June 2020

I got the same thing from Julie Leach. She gave me her fed agent Eddie montoya who then contacted me with a claim number. Another number and a tracking number. I called fed ex. They said the tracking number was used backbin 20017. They keep texting me since 6/7/20. What a scam. She is back on Instagram and request to follow me. Be ware of this scam.

Tlars says:
8 May 2020

It’s a sad world we are living in with these animals scamming hard working people, the entire world has become corrupt, greedy b******s !!!

Yesterday, I also received a message from a Julie Leach scammer, saying that I have been selected to receive the $50,000 and to trust the process. Then, they asked for my name address and phone number. After I looked up history since 2015, around the world Honda scam, I proceeded to tell this person or persons what I thought of their cruel & illegal scam and that I would definitely report them…..i deleted their account! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Deborah says:
17 May 2020

Same with me. Thank goodness I realized before anything bad happened.

I just got a follow from “julie leach” i reported it as spam and blocked this shady persons account , who is obviously not the real Julie Leach.

Denise Robinson says:
21 May 2020

I just got offered $100,000 and I needed to pay 250 in fees through PayPal first and take my tracking number and the delivery will come in cash in 12 hours sounds way too good to be true I looked it up and this is what I found thank you for posting all of this information I am now blocking all contact through Instagram and text from this scammer!

Michael N. DeMers says:
23 May 2020

This thing is still going around. Just got one this morning. Out of curiosity I accepted the friend request. I imagine they know I’m onto them when I said I was independently wealthy and didn’t need their money. Be careful out there.

Melissa says:
3 June 2020

She just messaged me saying that i won 50k to text a number and I’ll get my package info ..yeah right they want my to get an apple card and put $300 on and give them the code on the back of the card …nice try “Julie Leach” ..i blocked that account ..my mama didn’t raise an idiot

So I just received “Julie’s” intention of giving me $80,000? The initial Instagram said she wanted volunteers to help donate money to different charities and needy people. When I replied with interest, “she” started telling me how to get my “winnings”. It was’t very specific. I said I was confused and asked “her” to call. Wouldn’t do it. Then when I got up this morning “she” texted “Good Morning. There’s going to be checks being delivered to your area tomorrow.” I went back to the original Instagram pick and noticed the date of 2015 check. I knew then it had to be a scam and when I went to Goggle I found y’all!! So they have my phone number. Is there any significant problem with that? Should I write them back that their scam didn’t work on me or should I just ignore everything going forward?

Renee Howard says:
1 July 2020

If they have your phone number they can change all your passwords. Keep an eye out.

Emmett says:
17 June 2020

Thank you for informing

Will snyder says:
18 June 2020

What if she says 100 k ever 1k followers

James Fields says:
18 June 2020

Greetings everyone, my name is James and I’m a victim of a scammer, they got me for $450, yes I was stupid enough to believe that it was legit, here’s what happened in a nutshell, I was contacted by someone calling themselves Julie Leach and I was randomly selected as one of the winners of $100k, Mrs. Leach informed me that someone would be contacting me via text message, his name believe or not is James Kowalski, he informed me that he was an agent of FedEx & I had to pay him by Bitcoin in the amount of $50, never heard of bitcoin, non of the machines around me worked, so I ended up paying him by an Amazon gift card, didn’t like the guy from the start, so I informed Mrs. Leach of this, well I was informed by her that she would talk to him about, now here’s the good part, they referred me to a delivery guy by the name of George Fuller, who would be bringing my winnings to my doorstep, he also asked to be paid by Bitcoin, but I told him no can do non of the machines worked, so I paid him by an Amazon gift card in the amount of $200, now here’s where it gets interesting, via bringing my winnings to my doorstep he gets a flat tire, I help to pay to fix it, but being he couldn’t leave his truck unattended, he used the $50 to pay for a tow truck and he still needed to get his tire fixed, so someone helped me out so Mr. Fuller could get back on the road. Now here’s the funny part, Mr. Fuller never even left his house during the proceedings, how did I find this out, Mr. Fuller said that he was going to lose his truck, that the IRS wanted $500, well I used an app on my phone to pinpoint where Mr. Fuller was, well every phone has a built-in GPS and it showed exactly where Mr Fuller was, I have his phone number (828-351-4368). I hope that whoever is reading this doesn’t become a victim like me. Can someone help pay me back.

I don’t believe it.

Anon e mouse says:
4 July 2020

Oh sure! Did you set up a go fund me?
sounds like youve concocted your own scam based on this.

susanne says:
21 June 2020

I’m in Ireland and it just happened to me as I write. I reported her Instagram page but she is still on messages me…as we speak.

Gary Hoffman says:
27 June 2020

Yep sent me same message. I’m gonna say they sent me money already but overpaid and want to send some back and ask for their account info hahahaha 😂

Young C says:
5 July 2020

Shes trying to scam me right now…

Kyiva McCollough says:
14 July 2020

Me too. I responded that I know they are a scam account and that they are being reported and blocked

Jaret Dahl says:
6 July 2020

I have come across a similar scam claiming to be Julia Leach. And they didnt even do any research, when I asked when they had won the lottery they responded with “some months ago”…haha. be careful and ask lots of questions, you’ll find holes

Kyiva McCollough says:
14 July 2020

This scam account literally just sent me messages asking for my name, phone number, country and address. I felt that something was off when the account just kept messaging me and the photos on the account just didn’t look real. I’m glad I researched it before I sent any information