Oprah Winfrey wants her fans to know that she is not behind a social media campaign that is offering money to sign up for an OWN account on Instagram. Winfrey took to her own Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages to set the record straight about a recent financial scam that uses her OWN/Oprah Winfrey Network name and avatar to lure her millions of social media followers into sending money to open accounts with the promise of monetary Christmas rewards.
First for Women posted screenshots of a post for a now-defunct Instagram account named @own_Christmas, which promised a $5,000 prize to the first 100,000 followers. The plea even came with a screenshot of what appeared to be Oprah Winfrey’s Twitter page offering the same deal, complete with a blue “verified” checkmark which made it seem as though it was the official account of the media mogul. Other phony sites popped up with posts claiming Oprah had teamed up with longtime pal Tyler Perry for a Christmas giveaway.
Oprah Winfrey’s followers were first alerted about the scam on the OWN Twitter page, with a post that read: “Please be aware that social media accounts promising money using OWN and/or Oprah Winfrey’s name are false. We have notified the social media platforms who are working diligently to deactivate these accounts.”
Oprah then posted a video to social media herself to explain the situation. Winfrey told fans that imposters have been asking people to send money in order to open OWN accounts on Instagram.
“It’s a fraud,” Winfrey said in the video.
“Don’t believe it. Don’t give up any of your bank accounts or personal information to anybody posing as me, or anyone else, for that matter. And, have a merry Christmas.”
You can see Oprah Winfrey’s message to her fans in the video below.
Oprah Winfrey is known for her Christmas giveaways—for years she hosted a “Favorite Things” episode on The Oprah Winfrey Show in which she doled out everything from popcorn to pajamas to Pontiac cars to her entire studio audience. But the OWN head honcho has made it clear that she is not handing out cash to get social media followers—and probably never will.
Oprah Winfrey has had personal experience with scammers. In 2001, the talk show queen was targeted by an online scammer who cooked up a scheme to steal millions from wealthy celebrities including Oprah, Steven Spielberg, and Martha Stewart. The scammer, Abraham Abdallah, used technology and other techniques to steal the Social Security numbers, addresses, and birth dates of 200 wealthy stars and executives, as well as more than 400 credit card numbers. Abdallah was charged with criminal impersonation, forgery, and fraud, according to CBS News.