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Fresh Scam Warning Over Fake Winner Accounts

Last Updated: Tuesday 8th January 2019, 13:54

A new set of scams have surfaced recently as fraudsters attempt to con people into believing they are EuroMillions winners Frances and Patrick Connolly. The Connollys won almost £115 million on New Year’s Day and various new social media accounts have now sprung up which see scammers pretending to be the lucky couple and promising to share the wealth.

Frances and Patrick, from Moira in Northern Ireland, became the UK’s fourth-biggest lottery winners of all time when they matched all seven EuroMillions numbers. They came forward quickly and told the press how they celebrated with a ‘hug and a cup of tea’, while also revealing what they planned to do with their money.

They said they wanted to give some of their winnings away and had drawn up a list of around 50 names. Scammers have latched onto this idea and there has been an explosion of bogus social media accounts which pass themselves off as one of the Connollys or the other.

Bogus Account Has 46,000 Followers

One Twitter account, which quickly acquired more than 46,000 followers, posted a tweet which reads: “As you all know me and my wife have won the £115 million EuroMillions jackpot, we’re looking for 50 people to give some of the winnings away to, retweet, like and follow for a chance to win!” The account also asks users to subscribe to their YouTube channel for a chance to win part of their nine-figure windfall and says the winners will be drawn when they reach 10,000 subscribers on YouTube.

National Lottery operator Camelot has been quick to warn people of the scam, saying: “We are aware that there have been some fake profiles set up. If you see any that you believe to be fake, please report them to Twitter.”

How Scammers Operate

Pretending to be a big winner is a common type of lottery scam, but the National Lottery added: “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Winners of The National Lottery and other lotteries are sometimes falsely imitated on the internet in a variety of ways – often to try to make people believe they are going to be entitled to money.”

These scams work by convincing people to hand over money, or by extracting personal information. If people think the social media accounts belong to the genuine winners, they are more likely to hand over money or provide financial details in the belief that they stand a good chance of being paid a substantial sum further down the line.

Similar scams may appear via email, telephone or post, while there are several other scam tricks that have become widespread in recent years. Many scammers will try to make their intended victims think they have won a prize by claiming to represent an official lottery, asking for a fee in advance before they can pay out.

You should remember that it is impossible to win a prize for a lottery you have not played, while you will not be contacted at random by an official operator or a previous winner and will never be asked for money before being paid any prize you have won. Find out more on the Lottery Scams page, including information about different types of scams, how to spot them and where to find help.

Connollys Will Be Sharing With Loved Ones

The Connollys made it clear at their winners’ ceremony that they would be sharing some of their money with close friends and family members, saying nothing about giving it to random strangers. Frances’ sister Sharon Bordessa was one of the first people to feel the benefit, as she was able to buy her family home within days of the EuroMillions win.

Speaking about her sister’s plans to share the money with loved ones, she said: “That wouldn't be something that they just said to look good, that is something that is totally genuine.” Frances and Patrick have also vowed to help children’s football club St Francis FC in Hartlepool, as she used to live in the town. They are now looking forward to a bright future with their nearest and dearest, with Patrick retiring for now and Frances planning to do a PhD in clinical psychology.

EuroMillions continues to offer multimillion-pound jackpots every Tuesday and Friday evening. You can only win if you take part, so head down to an authorised retailer or play online.

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