In short, if you receive a direct message on Facebook from "Mary Neubauer" informing you that you've won Powerball, please know that it's a scam and you should protect yourself by not responding to it. Here's the background:
Last week, we received an inquiry on the Iowa Lottery's Facebook page from an Iowa woman and I received a telephone call at my desk from a New Mexico woman who both relayed similar details. They said they had received a direct message on Facebook from Mary Neubauer, the president of Powerball in Iowa City, telling them that they'd won the jackpot and that to claim the prize, they needed to get a money card and then give Mary Neubauer the numbers on the card. (I suppose the explanation would be that the prize money would be sent to the money card? And I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the scammers planned to bilk the victim by cleaning out any money on the card?)
One of the women also said that two of "Mary Neubauer's assistants" had been calling her, trying to get her purchase a money card and give them the numbers.
A quick review of the facts so far:
1. My name is Mary Neubauer.
2. I am not the president of Powerball.
3. The Powerball game isn't based in Iowa City.
4. And unlike what the fake Facebook profile claims, I am not from Iowa City and I didn't go to Iowa City West High School. Not that I have anything against Iowa City or Iowa City West High School.
Hey, you have to laugh about this stuff to a certain extent because it’s just so … sad. (And crazy.)
Both women who contacted us said they thought it was a scam and they wanted us to know about it. We have advised them that it definitely is a scam and they should protect themselves by not responding to it. Our Security Division also is looking into the matter and I have filed a report with Facebook that the “Mary Neubauer” profile is fake and should be shut down. I don’t know how long that will take or if it will actually happen, since it is not my page.
Check out the screenshot of the "Mary Neubauer" Facebook profile that we've included here! It's a pretty slick page, just as the other scams we've seen through the years have given the appearance of being official.
I wish I could say I'm surprised by this latest news, but unfortunately, I'm not. We've been working for years to remind people about the dangers of lottery scams. And, different iterations of scams through the years have involved the names of several different lottery officials.
The lottery scammers are nearly impossible to trace or stop. In most instances, they operate from outside the United States via mobile operations that spoof I.P. addresses, telephone numbers and physical locations. The best thing that any of us can do is to remain vigilant against scams and NEVER share our personally-identifying information such as Social Security numbers or bank account information.
If you're looking for more information, please visit the Player Security section on our website. We have security reminders there as a way to help protect folks against situations just like we’re seeing now.