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Scammers use Ocala Powerball winner’s image to steal money, lawsuit claims

Attorney says culprits using social media, emails

ORLANDO, Fla. – An Ocala woman who won the Powerball jackpot in January has filed a lawsuit, trying to find out who is impersonating her online.

Sheryll Goedert, 61, won $396.9 million in the drawing held on Jan. 29.

Her attorney said almost immediately after it was announced, social media pages claiming to be Goedert starting popping up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The attorney for Sheryll Goedert said this Facebook post was not made by Goedert, and they're trying to find out who is pretending to be her online.
The attorney for Sheryll Goedert said this Facebook post was not made by Goedert, and they're trying to find out who is pretending to be her online. (WKMG/Facebook)

"It's not just her name. It's her face and all kinds of head shots," said David Hathaway. "It's not just a single headshot."

He said Goedert is not on any social media channels.

The pages and posts being posted often offer financial help.

One post on a Facebook page with Goedert's name and picture read, "The first 200 people to say congratulations will receive a sum of money that will help him or her in their life."

"We've been getting a lot of calls from individuals who are unsure whether it's a scam," Hathway said. "It's a scam."

Exhibits submitted with their federal lawsuit include screenshots of instant messages sent by some of the social media accounts.

One asks for the person's credit card information.

Hathaway said at least one person's account information was held hostage.

"We had an email from someone who paid $800 to one of these defendants just to regain access to all of her systems," he said.

On Monday, a federal judge approved subpoenas to be sent to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, asking for the names of the people who set up the bogus profiles.

Hathaway said he knows some of the suspects may live in other countries, but he wants them brought to justice.

"We're not going to back down. We are going to see this through to a resolution," he said.

Hathaway said he and Goedert have contacted law enforcement, including the FBI, to conduct criminal investigations.

Meantime, Facebook responded to requests for a comment.

A spokesperson said the suspect profiles supplied by News 6 had been taken down and were under investigation.

They said pretending to be someone else, or impersonation, is an explicit violation of the company's policies, and they've developed detection technology that helps block millions of attempts to create fake accounts every day.

More on their rules can be found here.


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