Minnesota lottery winners Joe and Rhonda Meath are donating some of their $11.7 million family, friends and plan to start a K9 foundation for local police forces, but they're not donating it to the people who have been targeted in an email scam.
Since winning the Hot Lotto Jackpot, the Meaths have shared their good fortune with family and friends, but someone is using their names to hit a jackpot of their own.
"It's disheartening to me because people in Minnesota have embraced us. I still get people who say ‘Is it you?' when I'm at work. I say, ‘Yes it is.' They want a hug, or I saw a lady at the Hom Furniture store just the other day. To have that happen, it's hard to believe someone would scam someone else," Rhonda Meath said.
An email is making the rounds claiming to be from the Meaths saying they want to donate $1 million dollars to four lucky individuals as part of a charity project. The email says in order to collect the money, all you have to do is send them your name address and contact number. It even includes a link to a Fox 9 news story about the Meaths as proof the claims are legit. They're not.
"It's 100 percent a scam. The only charity we are donating to is the St. Paul Police Dog Foundation, and that's next week," Meath said.
Officials with the Minnesota Lottery say lottery scams are nothing new, although using an actual winner's name is unusual, if not unheard of. They say giving anyone your personal information or money in exchange for alleged lottery winnings is a scammer's golden ticket to your identity or bank account.
Despite their windfall, Rhonda Meath says their lives have stayed pretty much the same, and while winning the lottery has been a dream come true, the couple's fear of someone falling victim to this scam has been a nightmare.