Claim: The Powerball and Mega Million lottery games are giving away $1 million to people who share a message on Facebook.

Example: [Collected via e-mail, October 2015]

Powerball and mega million to give away 1 million dollars online. Is this true?

Origins: In mid-October 2015, social media postings began touting that the Mega Millions and Powerball lottery games were giving away $1 million to people who shared a Facebook message:

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These posts were nothing more than variants of the long-running sweepstakes scam, which has previously targeted customers of such entities as Walmart, Home Depot, and Publix. Each of these scams exhibits slight variations, but they all seek to reach a larger audience by requiring people to share the scam with their friends on Facebook. While these charlatans promise that sharing, liking, or commenting on a given Facebook post will make a person a millionaire, what Facebook users who fall for the come-ons are really doing is spreading a malicious scam to more and more potential victims:

Don’t believe what you see. It’s easy to steal the colors, logos and header of an established organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender.

Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information on customer surveys. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure there’s a link to their privacy policy.

Watch out for a reward that’s too good to be true. If the survey is real, you may be entered in a drawing to win a gift card or receive a small discount off your next purchase. Few businesses can afford to give away $50 gift cards for completing a few questions.

Several state lotteries have warned their players against Facebook scams:

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If you want to win the Mega Millions or Powerball lottery games, your best method for achieving that goal is to actually go out and buy a ticket. Of course, some might consider that approach scarcely better than doing nothing, since the odds of winning $1 million in Powerball are less than 1 in 11 million.

Last updated: 15 October 2015

Originally published: 15 October 2015