Florida Lottery warns about online Powerball scam

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Six little numbers could make someone very, very wealthy on Wednesday night as the excitement surrounding the largest lottery jackpot ever reaches a fever pitch.

As lottery players dream of how they would spend all the winnings, scammers see the Powerball buzz as the perfect opportunity to take advantage of people. These scammers are also looking to get rich quick.

Bryan Oglesby of the Better Business Bureau
Bryan Oglesby of the Better Business Bureau

The Lottery sent out a news release Tuesday saying a website calling itself “USA POWERBALL Syndicate” is offering shares of tickets that are purchased as a group with the winnings paid out equally for every share. The website includes the official Florida Lottery logo as well as information about all Florida Lottery games.

“Whenever there is hype in the media, that’s a prime opportunity for scammers to get out there, use that and use emotions to send emails, make up websites and use tactics to dupe consumers into providing personal information,” said Bryan Oglesby of the Better Business Bureau. Oglesby serves West Florida.

MORE: 10 most common Powerball numbers

The BBB’s Scam Tracker maps out scams across the country. In less than a year, 322 lottery scams have been reported, including 10 that involved the Powerball.

These scam artists are crafty, using websites and logos that look official to appear legit, but if you are going to try your luck, remember that under Florida law, lottery tickets cannot be purchased by phone or mail, or on the internet.

“They may also send you an e-mail that says, ‘Hey, I’m the winner of the lottery and I choose you. I want give you this money but I need you to send money to win this money,’” Oglesby added.

The thought of a billion-dollar bank account would put dollar signs in anyone’s eyes, but it’s important to remember not to let big money cause you to let your guard down.

The jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing is estimated to be $1.5 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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