Winning the jackpot can bring unwanted attention from criminals. Here are a few Powerball scams to avoid should you find yourself matching numbers.
Winning the Powerball jackpot, as most winners will tell you, is a life-changing event. And while most of the expert advice out there will offer tips about how to collect your winnings, invest properly, and build a financial legacy, there is something else Powerball winners should know. When you become a winner, you’ll face publicity and attention from some of the worst kinds of criminals and master manipulators. There are scams out there siphoning hard-earned cash from everyday Americans all the time. But Powerball winners can be especially hard-hit targets because of their newfound wealth. When you collect your jackpot, beware of these sneaky scams.
Your idea of a criminal embarking on a scam attempt might be some guy in a dark room, wearing a hoodie with his nose inches from a computer screen. Maybe it’s a shadowy figure following you to the ATM. And those descriptions are valid. But for Powerball winners, some of the worst experiences of scamming and manipulation came from friends and family. When you become wealthy, the begging, borrowing, and whining from those less fortunate become an everyday reality. Beware of these pitfalls and be careful about doling out the cash. Set boundaries and don’t be persuaded by pressures from loved ones.
The publicity that comes with winning the Powerball can make you a target of blackmail. Perfect strangers, now aware of your millionaire status, may target you by phone or email with threats. In some of these scenarios, the criminals might claim to be a government or Powerball official who seeks to collect fees or additional taxes from you. The best way to combat these encounters is to do your best to remain out of the public eye. And should you be confronted electronically, with any request for additional payment of any kind, contact the Powerball office near you separately to make an inquiry.
Some scams occur because Powerball winners try to stay out of things. But not controlling your own story could leave you a victim of retaliation. Stacey Lowry, an Oregon winner of $5 million, found herself relocating to a new town entirely to escape the hate that had grown in her own neighborhood. In her experience, neighbors began asking for money and gifts. At first, she felt compelled to comply. But when she finally started turning people down, the name bashing came swiftly. She told reporters, “the town went crazy,” and the rumors swirled so fast that she had no other choice but to move away. Rumor mills aren’t necessarily scams. But they do tend to follow Powerball winners around, and not controlling your own narrative can allow them to affect you adversely.
John and Lisa Robinson appeared on the Today Show with their winning ticket before they had actually claimed their jackpot. Others have rushed to local news outlets and social media, bragging about their change in financial status. Before you win the Powerball, your identity may already be at risk of being stolen. But after becoming a Powerball winner, your name stands out as one with a sizable bank account behind it. Instead of being overly public about your win, do your best to keep your details to yourself. Avoid unnecessary publicity wherever you can, especially online. Not all states will allow you to claim your jackpot anonymously, either. So be mindful of your name out there, including any association with any millions you might have won.
When you do win the Powerball jackpot, you’ll be over-the-moon excited. But don’t lose sight of a few of the dangers that come along with that hefty bank account. Be smart and aware about your situation and keep your circle of confidantes tight. It would be a shame to fall victim to some of these scenarios.