Hoax Instagram account claims to be a lottery winner donating his fortune

If you ever win the lottery, we apologize. You’ll want to use some of that money to protect your name.


Elizabeth Robinson


Published Apr 8, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 12:30 pm CDT

If you ever win the lottery, we apologize—you’ll want to use some of that money to protect your name against social media scammers.

When Illinois resident Merle Butler and his wife won the lottery in 2012 and received a third of the $656 Mega Millions jackpot, Butler said he didn’t expect his daily life to change “all that much.” 

So he probably didn’t anticipate, two years later, to see an Instagram account with his face on it and a proclamation that he’d be giving away a chunk of his fortune to his first followers.

Butler cleared the air yesterday, saying the account in question was fake. He doesn’t even have an Instagram, he told TMZ.

The fake account, @merlebutler, garnered more than 112,000 followers over the weekend. The page’s description promised $1,000 to the first 50 followers before it was shut down.

It’s no surprise that a 67-year-old retired computer analyst wouldn’t have an Instagram account, but that doesn’t seem to phase the thousands of followers on Butler’s other fake accounts. Some promise $1,000 to the first however many followers he receives, while others ask followers to submit their email addresses and PayPal information. One asks for a 99-cent donation.

Photo via booleansplit/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Share this article
*First Published: Apr 8, 2014, 5:20 pm CDT