Billion Dollar Mega Millions Lottery Winners Don’t Donate To Strangers


Diane Jenkins was suspicious when she received a text saying that the winners of the billion dollar Mega Millions ticket bought from Novi wanted to share the wealth with her.

But when she received a second text last month from “George Reed” saying he was in charge of payments and identity verification for the 500 people who had been randomly selected to receive 4,500 $ each she began to wonder if this could be true.

“He said all you have to do is send in your driver’s license,” Jenkins, a Florida resident, recalls. “I already got a message and ignored it, but then I thought, ‘What if this is real? “”

This is not the case, and the The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers that one of the main signs of a scam is a request for financial information in order to receive the award.

Anthony Davis in Beaufort, North Carolina, acknowledged this when he was also contacted by a likely con artist who promised lottery winners $ 20,000 in exchange for his Social Security number.

“I know that’s not the way the Social Security department works,” Beaufort said simply. “Maybe there are people who fall in love with this.”

Kurt Panouses, the Florida tax attorney who accepted the $ 1 billion prize on behalf of the Mega Millions winners in March, confirmed that his customers did not give a piece of their cake to random strangers.

These fraudulent texts, emails and phone calls from scammers are an ongoing problem, he said, and he receives five to 10 phone calls a week from people trying to verify validity, such as an elderly woman who said having given his information to the crooks.

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Panouses felt bad, but the woman assured him that she didn’t have a lot of money in her account and that she hadn’t lost more than $ 100.

Winners unchanged despite millions

The Wolverine FLL Club, four friends from Southeast Michigan who breakfast burned when they realized they had won, haven’t spent much of their bank accounts, their lawyer said.

“This money hasn’t changed any of them,” Panouses said. “They are doing very well, everyone is happy. It really didn’t change their life; they don’t buy boats and houses. They reflect. No one flies private planes, even if they could. “

He said the trip was on the itinerary, however, with winners predicting warmer weather as it gets colder in Michigan.

Panouses also helps the club pay their year-end taxes and raise large charitable donations that they can make anonymously by donating to 501c3 community organizations they know and want to help.

Panouses again emphasizes that lottery winners will not contact individuals to donate money, as they typically exceed the current federal gift tax exemption limit of $ 11.7 million.

“You usually give your kids, cousins, best friends… you give $ 1 million or $ 2 million each and go through it quickly,” Panouses said. “After offering $ 11.7 million in freebies, the IRS says, ‘Wait a minute.’ We need more information. There will be no winner who says, “I’m going to give 20 million dollars to 20 random people.”

The lottery group, which Panouses said was very interested in education, is still figuring out where it wants to donate, which could include scholarships for Michigan colleges and universities.

“The lottery winners, the ones I’ve had, have done a great job giving a lot of money to organizations that are doing great work,” said Panouses. “They don’t hoard, they just make sure to use it for good purposes.”

This goal is not, however, to make individual donations to random strangers.

“These things don’t happen,” Panouses said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Contact reporter Susan Bromley at [email protected] or 517-281-2412. Follow her on Twitter @ SusanBromley10.


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