Latest Scam Invokes Memory Of $218.6M Red Bud IL Lottery Win

For Immediate Release Contact: Mike Lang, Illinois Lottery 217-524-5158

SPRINGFIELD, IL—August 23, 2012—Lottery officials today warned consumers of a familiar scam with a new twist.  The latest hoax involves emails purported to be from Illinois’ recent $218.6 million Mega Millions winner; in the email the scammer says he will give $1.5 million to three lucky recipients, who, after responding to the email, will be asked to pay money to release one of the $1.5 million “gifts.”

“In the course of communicating with victims, scammers often claim to be law enforcement or government officials,” said IL Lottery Supt. Michael Jones. “This is the first case we are aware of where the scammer claims to be a big Lottery winner who is giving away part of his Lottery fortune.” 

The scam email forwarded to Lottery officials yesterday from a skeptical recipient states “I won the US Mega-Millions Lottery & have decided to make a cash donation of $1.5 Million to 3 persons. Send Names, Country and a bank check will be issued in your name.”  The email had the subject line “$1,500,000.00 USD CASH DONATION!”

The March 30, 2012 Mega Millions drawing resulted in three $218.6 million winners, including a winner from Red Bud, Illinois. That winner, the largest in Illinois history, garnered publicity across the globe. Given the immense publicity accorded the Red Bud win, Lottery officials said they are not surprised a scam of this nature was hatched.

Last month, the Lottery warned of another, more traditional scam involving a Chicago woman who was told via email and telephone that she won a $26 million foreign Lottery prize.  In order to “release the Lottery prize” the woman made a series of payments totaling $7,000 in hopes the bogus Lottery prize would be awarded to her (it wasn’t).

“No legitimate lottery requires payment to claim a prize,” said Jones.  “If a stranger contacts you via phone or email and says you won a Lottery prize, don’t believe it!  It’s been said before but it bears repeating:  if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Other routine scam attempts include sending what appears to be a legitimate check to consumers through the U.S. postal service, with an attached letter asking the consumer to send hundreds of dollars to release the funds from the bogus check.  Yet another recent scam involves impostors posing as “Mega Millions” game representatives who contact consumers via phone and alert them to an alleged win that requires the victim to purchase a “tax release” stamp or incur other bogus fees to release the funds.

Lottery prizes up to $600 can be claimed at most Lottery retail locations; prizes over $600 may be submitted to one of five Lottery prize centers located across Illinois, including the Lottery’s claims office in Springfield. The Lottery does periodically offer 2nd-chance drawings, under which players who submit non-winning tickets can win prizes. These promotions are explained in detail on the lottery’s


About Illinois Lottery

Founded in 1974, the Illinois Lottery has contributed over $20 billion to the state’s Common School Fund to assist K-12 public schools, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars to the Capital Projects Fund and to special causes like Illinois Veterans, the fight against breast cancer, MS research, and assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to playing in-store, the Illinois Lottery offers online and mobile play for Mega Millions, Powerball and Lotto at Players must be at least 18 years old.