Texas Woman Scammed by 'Friend' in 'Facebook Lottery'

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said it's investigating an advance fee scheme

ByABC News
May 22, 2014, 12:13 PM

May 22, 2014 — -- A woman in Texas says she was the victim of a well-worn scam, but what was unique in her case was that the fraudulent pitch came to her through a Facebook "friend" and was allegedly endorsed by President Obama.

Kris White admits that she shouldn't have been fooled last week by the Facebook message saying she had won $250,000 in a "Facebook Powerball lottery," ABC News affiliate KTRK reported. She said she was shown documents that wrote United States with lowercase letters and included phrases with incorrect punctuation, according to the KTRK story.

But she was swayed when the person on Facebook showed her documents signed by Barack Obama that said, “This is a Real proof you won $250,000.00.”

"Shame on me," White told ABC affiliate KTRK in Houston.

"I'm a sucker, I guess," she said. "I believed it."

Her gullibility and her eagerness to collect the $250,000 prize instead cost her $750.

The Facebook message that told her she had won appeared to have come from a friend at work. The "friend" told White to contact another person via Facebook to collect her winnings. In order to collect, however, she was instructed to make two wire transfers totaling about $750 to an individual in South Africa to cover the taxes. White said she was promised the money would be delivered to her home on Monday, KTRK reported, but the money never came. When she later asked her coworker about the lottery, he said he had no knowledge of it, KTRK reported.

White appears to have been the victim of what the FBI calls an "advance fee scheme." That's when a victim pays money to someone while expecting something of greater value, such as a loan or gift.

Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911 and security columnist for ABC News, said fee scams are quite common these days.

"Social networking sites have become petri dishes for those whose day-job is the exploitation of others,” Levin said. “They are the new casino of dreams where the game is rigged against true believers, dreamers and perpetual optimists. Advance fee scams are but one common vial of snake oil in the many pockets of a con-man's overcoat."

The Harris County Sheriff's Office told ABC News that a complaint was filed on Tuesday and it was turned over to the criminal investigation bureau.

White could not be reached for comment by ABC News.

Facebook told ABC News, “Scams violate our policies, and we take action on accounts found to be spreading them.” The spokesman pointed readers to the Facebook Help Center to avoid scams. “We recommend being suspicious of claims that sound too good to be true.”

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