She Wanted Anonymity After Powerball Win, Didn't Get It

Cristy Davis advocates for winners being able to stay anonymous after scammers exploited her
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2023 12:40 PM CDT
She Wanted Anonymity After Powerball Win, Didn't Get It
A person shows their selection for a Powerball drawing on Nov. 7, 2022, at a convenience store in Renfrew, Pennsylvania.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

No one matched all the requisite numbers in Wednesday's Powerball drawing, which has sent the jackpot for Saturday night's picks to $725 million. Winning such a huge lottery is a moment most of us have daydreamed about, but Cristy Davis actually lived that dream, after claiming a $70 million Powerball prize in 2020. Now, however, she's pushing hard to keep winners' names under wraps after a scam using her name was perpetrated. USA Today reports that in Michigan, where Davis lives, anyone who wins more than $10,000 in local or statewide lottery games can opt to keep their name quiet, but that doesn't apply to lotteries that stretch across multiple states, like Powerball and Mega Millions.

"That was my big thing—I didn't want to go on TV," Davis, of Waterford, tells the Lottery Post. "I know so many [who've] been through so much in life." But Davis said she could either accept the publicity "or no money," and considering she was living paycheck to paycheck at the time, she didn't feel she could pick the latter. So she accepted the $36 million in cash she'd won after taxes and dove into her new, more comfortable life—a life that ended up marred by a fraud she had nothing to do with. Davis says she eventually started hearing about and seeing her name pop up in a local Facebook forum, with someone pretending to be her.

MalwareTips explains the scam, which involves the impersonator contacting potential victims on social media or via email, informing them that "Cristy" has decided to give away a good portion of her lottery winnings, and asking them to send some personal and financial information to make sure the money gets to them. Of course, it wasn't the real Davis soliciting online, and she's now lobbying harder than ever to prevent other winners' names from being released—not only for their own sake, but to protect vulnerable populations like the elderly, who may be easy marks who are all too willing to hand over their most sensitive information.

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"The lottery people need to know when they expose your name, this is the stuff that happens," Davis tells the Lottery Post. "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 notes it's an even bigger issue for winners who refuse to change their names or phone numbers, or to move away after claiming their jackpot. The result? It all makes a big win "too good to be real, because of everything that comes after," Davis laments. (More Powerball stories.)

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