A Mega Millions lottery jackpot winner’s “giving back” campaign on Twitter looks and sounds an awful lot like a scam.
Numerous Twitter profiles have been popping up claiming to be operated by Shane Missler, a 20-year-old resident of Florida who won the $451 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot in January. Many of those new accounts use their Twitter bios to promote a campaign that would initially appeal to all of us. All someone needs to do is follow the profile and retweet; if they are among the first 50,000 followers to do so, they will receive $5,000 as part of a “giving back” campaign supposedly launched by the lottery winner.
Sounds good, right? Almost a little too good?
That’s because it probably is. Aside from the sheer number of Twitter profiles promoting the same campaign, all of which are unverified on the social media platform, there are several notable issues with the campaign itself. At the top of the list is the fact that Missler didn’t win $451 million. He won the jackpot, but as reported BBC News, he decided to take a single payment of $282 million rather than receive the full jackpot amount over a period of time. After taxes, he can expect to receive $211 million.
Let’s look at the math: 50,000 x 5,000 = $250 million, a sum that is far larger than what he can expect to receive from his single lottery payout.
The issues don’t end there, either. Many of the promotional bios also encourage users to “sign up and purchase in link below for an instant $2,000.” Christopher Boyd, lead malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, explains where that link goes:
The link in question is an Amazon referral link, and for some reason our very rich lottery winner wants you to purchase an Amazon fire stick. If you won $451m, would you be bothering with Amazon referral sales, which would generate tiny amounts of money for the Amazon associate before handing over $2,000? What’s the point?
Beyond that, how can Missler afford to pay $2,000 to everyone who completes the referral process over a seemingly indefinite period of time when he’s already spent $40 million more than his after-taxes payout from the follow-and-retweet scheme?
Last but not least, the campaign appears to conflict with Missler’s own explanation of what he intends to do with the earnings. As he told the Tampa Bay Times:
I intend to take care of my family, have some fun along the way and cement a path for financial success so that I can leave a legacy far into the future.
He’d certainly create a legacy for himself giving away all of his winnings to people whom he doesn’t know on Twitter. But he’d hardly be able to take care of his family and “cement a path for financial success” if he’s tens of millions of dollars in the hole for his “giving back” campaign.
With all that said, these Twitter accounts claiming to be Missler are likely just attempting to distribute a scam. Users can protect themselves against this ruse and others like it by familiarizing themselves with common ploys that appear on Twitter. Here are five that they should read up on.