Mavis Wanczyk Scam: What You Should Know and How to Avoid It
In August 2017, 53-year-old nurse Mavis Wanczyk beat incredible odds (about 1 in 292 million) to become the sole winner of a $758.7 US Powerball jackpot. After she went public with her identity, multiple Mavis Wanczyk scam accounts and emails started cropping up almost immediately. In this article, we’ll tell you all about these scams, which continue to circulate, and how you can protect yourself—and your money—from falling victim.
Who Is Mavis Wanczyk?
Mavis Wanczyk lived in Chicopee in Hampden County, Massachusetts, and was working at a medical center in patient care when she won the US Powerball jackpot. Wanczyk, a mother of two adult children, took home $336,350,655 after taxes.
Despite what scammers would have you believe, Wanczyk had few plans after her big win, and none that involved giving away her prize money. At a press conference revealing her win, she disclosed that she immediately quit her job and planned to “sit back and relax” and enjoy her retirement.
Mavis Wanczyk Social Media Scams
Once Mavis came forward to claim her prize, it didn’t take long for scammers to take advantage. Within a week of Mavis’s win, dozens of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts were created pretending to be Wanczyk. The purpose of these accounts is to convince unsuspecting users to divulge personal information in exchange for a promised cut of the winnings. However, the scam accounts have no intention of giving away any cash and may use the personal information to steal money instead.
The fake accounts became such a problem that the Chicopee Police Department released a statement warning residents of the threat. Officer Michael Wilk published a Facebook post telling users that multiple accounts across social media platforms were using Wanczyk’s name to message people and promise them they would receive money if they replied. He advised people not to give out any personal information to these scam accounts.
Officer Wilk concluded his statement by encouraging people to report the accounts as fake whenever they came across them.
Mavis Wanczyk Email Phishing Scam
Social media wasn’t the only platform people used to spread their Mavis Wanczyk scam. Scammers began sending emails claiming to come from Mavis and Deborah B. Goldberg, the Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver General.
The emails claim that Wanczyk must give away 10 percent of the $758.7 million jackpot, stating that the email recipient would receive a $758,700 “donation” along with 99 other lucky people. The email does not explain why Wanczyk would have to give away any of her prize money but gives a fake Gmail account that recipients can use to contact Wanczyk.
Treasurer Goldberg also addressed the email scam, warning residents to beware. By alerting the public, she hoped to ensure that residents would avoid being taken advantage of by falling prey to the scam.
Like many other phishing scams, the point of the fake email is to lure recipients into giving up personal information, including banking information. As Officer Wilk put it in another Facebook statement regarding the scam accounts, people who engage with the scammers usually end up losing money instead of gaining any.
How to Protect Yourself from Scams
The best way to protect yourself from falling victim to lotto scams is simply to ignore them. If you receive a message through social media or an email, do not engage with the sender. Lottery winners are not searching the Internet for strangers to give their prize money to, so do not fall for that narrative.
To prevent these scams from gaining traction and finding victims, report them to either the social media platform you see them on or to the governing body in charge of scams and frauds. In the U.S., you can report common scams and fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you live in another country, it might be a good idea to find out whether a similar organization exists or call your local police department for advice if you frequently have scammers contacting you.
If you ever find yourself the lucky winner of a jackpot, there are also ways to prevent your identity from being used for similar scams.
First, it would be best to wait for the media frenzy to die down before stepping forward to claim your prize. This way, you will attract less attention. Second, you can set up a trust that would allow you to maintain anonymity when you receive your winnings. You can protect your identity all together by remaining anonymous.
While winning the lottery is an incredible experience, there are a lot of people who would use others’ good fortune to their advantage. Avoid these scams by ignoring messages that seem too good to be true—because they are.