The day he learned he’d won $158 million in a Powerball drawing last week, Charles W. Jackson Jr. of Cumberland County wasn’t sure what he was going to do with all his winnings.
But you can be assured that if you receive an email saying he plans to give $4 million of it to you, it’s not real.
Such an email has begun circulating around the United Kingdom, a variation of well-known scams involving businessmen or exiled princes needing help transferring money out of some war-torn country.
But in this case, the person — Jackson — and his back-story are real, which is why Suzanne Noble of London thought maybe she had lucked into something.
“Over the years I’ve received the usual scams informing me that someone has recently died or wants to transfer millions into my bank account,” Noble wrote in an email. “Of course, I was suspicious of this one, but slightly less suspicious as I received the email so soon after Mr. Jackson won (plus I could see he actually did win a huge amount so that made me also wonder if perhaps my luck was in!).”
The email correctly says that Jackson expressed interest in donating money to three charities — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shriners Hospital for Children and the Wounded Warrior Project — then adds in imperfect English that he has decided to donate to some individuals as well.
“I have made a donation of $4 million to you as part of what I promise,” it reads. “I had help from several social networking organization including Linkedin and more, in which you have been selected to benefit from my donation.”
Van Denton, the N.C. Education Lottery’s spokesman, said he’s seen lots of scams over the years, but not one involving a jackpot winner in North Carolina. Denton said he has alerted Jackson about the scam email, and the lottery has reported the scam to the U.S. Justice Department.
In addition, the lottery has found 36 instances of someone impersonating Jackson on social media, with some of the imposters promising prizes or cash to people who follow them.
“Unfortunately, scams like these are all too common,” Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery, said in a statement. “Anyone who makes a promise of a donation or prize but wants you to give money first is trying to trick you. Never give your money or personal information to these people.”
Jackson won the largest lottery jackpot in state history when he got all six numbers correct in the national Powerball drawing on June 1. The jackpot came to $344.6 million taken over a period of years, but Jackson chose to receive a lump sum of $223 million, which after state and federal taxes nets him $158 million.
Noble, who runs a nonprofit to help people over 50 start businesses, was curious about the Jackson email and replied to see where it would go. She got another email saying she’d have to set up an account at a particular bank that would be used to relay the money to her bank account.
After another reply, Noble got a third email informing her that she’d need to deposit $500 into the new account to meet the bank’s minimum balance requirement, but not to worry because it could all be withdrawn when the $4 million is deposited. And that, she assumes, is how the scammers would make $500.
Noble says she assumes millions of people are receiving the initial email and that she hopes no one is falling for it.