Someone posed online as a recent lottery millionaire from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, promising free money to desperate people from all over the world in an apparent ploy to steal from them.
Actual lottery winner, Christine Luzon of Burnaby, took home the $70 million Lotto Max prize last October. At the time, it told BC Lottery Corporation that it plans to share some of its earnings with the family, then speak with a financial advisor before deciding what to do next.
Weeks after her victory, a Facebook account in her name, with a profile picture of Luzon accepting her award, posted a seemingly generous offer to people in need.
“I have decided to volunteer to help people financially, to advance the business, to help pay medical bills and other frustrating issues that deserve attention,” the book states. “Let me know if you have difficulty/dreary situations that you want to share with me and ask for help.”
CTV News contacted BCLC, which was able to reach Lauzon and confirm it was not behind the Facebook page.
A number of other fake accounts have also posted posts thanking Lauzon, offering testimonials about receiving up to $10,000, without restrictions.
One account wrote: “Thank you Kristen. I just paid off the mortgage on my house.” “She’s been so devastated since my work has had problems since COVID, and she just helped me, without asking anything for her. God bless her.”
Real people who landed on the page have different experiences. CTV News heard about two women she almost greeted, including one from Lautoka, Fiji, who was thrilled at the opportunity to help fix her family’s home.
“Every time it rains, our house gets flooded,” she said. “And the water runs down half the house, and we have to try to get out and go up to the church.”
The woman, who asked not to be named, sent a message to Christine Luzon’s fake page on January 1, and heard back hours later.
“I was telling her how very difficult my situation was, and she told me she was willing to help, but she was only helping with Bitcoin,” she said.
“I told her I just needed a little help, $1,000, but she said she’d send $100,000.”
A fraudulent Facebook account pretending to be a BC lottery winner promised to give free money to people in need, but only if they deposited the money into a Bitcoin wallet first.
The woman was saddened to learn the account was fake, but told CTV News she was grateful she didn’t lose any of her money.
Screenshots of her conversation with the scammer show that she was pressured into opening a Bitcoin wallet, telling her that she had to find a way to deposit $300 before she could receive any financial assistance. She was not able to raise the money by the time CTV News contacted her.
The names of local lottery winners have been used in a number of past scams, including one that promised up to $1 million in exchange for sensitive personal information from targets.
The BC Lottery Corporation has encouraged anyone suspected of criminal activity, such as lottery winner identity fraud, to contact the police.
“BCLC cares about our players and we encourage them to contact us if they have questions or concerns,” a BCLC spokesperson said in an email.