A Michigan woman has been scammed after her identity was stolen and used by fraudsters who promised to send people across the country money but instead wiped out their savings accounts
A lottery winner who bagged a whopping $70 million is now fighting to help other lucky winners keep their identities secret after her life changed in a way she definitely wasn’t expecting.
Cristy Davis, from Michigan, had her life turned upside down in 2020 when she won the jackpot, but it wasn’t all good news as she fell victim to identity theft, and was targeted by scammers who took money from their victims. Cristy is now campaigning for the rights of lottery winners to remain anonymous after her winnings were stolen and used in a scam that tricked multiple social media users.
In Michigan, where Cristy lives, winners of big games like Powerball can’t hide their identities. Only in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina can winners keep their identity hidden.
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Before her big win, Cristy was living “check to check, saying with [her] grandma, saving [her] money, just working at an [auto] dealership”. But everything changed when she decided to buy her own Mega Millions and Powerball tickets while her friend was buying some for his relatives.
The next morning, her friend told her that the winning ticket had been bought at the same place where she got hers. She recalled: “My friend Erica is next to me and she’s like, ‘No’. I yelled through the whole shop, and everybody came running. It was literally like a three-second excitement, and then it was like, this was too good to be true. It still hasn’t clicked in my brain that it’s real.”
Cristy shared that her life took a drastic turn after her massive win and the subsequent publicity. She tried to remain anonymous by hiring a lawyer, but it wasn’t possible.
“We tried to get a lawyer to see if I can [claim] anonymously, and they said no,” she explained. “That was my big thing – I didn’t want to go on TV. I know so many [who’ve] been through so much in life, and it was either that or no money.”
Now, fraudsters are pretending to be Cristy on social media, asking people for their bank details under the guise of sharing her winnings. If the victims share their information, the scammers clean out their savings.
“I’ve seen in [the] Waterford Matters Facebook group a post: ‘This is Cristy Davis, and I’m giving away blah blah blah blah blah… Send me this info to this phone number. Comments on [the post] are like, ‘They cleaned my bank account out.’ Why would you give somebody your bank account information?” Cristy told MailOnline.
Cristy blames the lottery for exposing winners’ names, leading to such scams, saying they know the “stuff that happens”. “The Lottery even emailed me like, ‘Oh, we heard you’re out here scamming people.’ I said, ‘You know, that’s what happens when you expose people’s names,'” she said.
“I’m not scamming anybody – I have money. Why would I want to hack into somebody’s bank account and take their money when they probably have $200 in their bank account? Just leave me alone.” Her pals often have to step in on social media to warn folks that it isn’t really her offering the cash.
One spam message reads: “Hello congratulations to you my name is Cristy Davis I’m the winner of Powerball Millions Jackpot in Feb 2/2021 Watch me on this link to see my winning interview- I’m donate to 20 random individuals.
“If you get this message then your number was selected after a spin ball. So you are among of those will be giving the sum of $500,000,00 to you as one of the selected 20, to verify your win send a text to the agent in charge. Here is the number of agent DR. Johnson Allen in charge (315) XXX-XXXX text him for confirmation and delivery of your winning.
“We need you to eliminate skepticism from your psyche, text the cell (315) XXX-XXX to proceed your winning.” Slightly tweaked messages with varying amounts of dosh have been sent to Instagram users and Facebook groups – who are now sharing screenshots of the chats with scammers on TikTok.
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