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Hoax Alert

Fake News: 22 Year Old South Carolina State Student Did NOT Win 1.5 Billion

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Thu, 25 Oct 2018 22:33:27 Z)

Did 22-year-old Tarik Jones win the Powerball lottery, claiming a 1.5 billion prize? No, that's not true: the only report about that came from a notorious prank website where anyone can upload any headline they choose in order to prank people. It is not real.

The story originated from an article published on NSFNews on October 25, 2018 titled "22 Year old South Carolina State Student has won 1.5 billion" (archived here) which opened:

Congrats to this young man Tarik Jones who won the lottery on yesterday .. Tarik Jones is a 22 year old college student who studies engineering from Timmonsville South Carolina .. He plans to discuss the money situation with his family but he will most definitely will be investing his money .

Screenshot of https://www.nsfnews.com/5bd0b81472fae/22-year-old-south-carolina-state-student-has-won-1-5-billion.html

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail and many seemingly thought it was real:

22 Year old South Carolina State Student has won 1.5 billion

Congrats to this young man Tarik Jones who won the lottery on yesterday .. Tarik Jones is a 22 year old college student who studies engineering from Timmonsville South Carolina .. He plans to discuss the money situation with his family but he will most definitely will be investing his money .

However it is not known who the winner is and it is unlikely to come out. According to this CNBC article winners in South Carolina can claim their prize anonymously and nothing is known about the identity of the winner yet:

Mega Millions has a $1.5 billion winner - here's who won the 5 biggest US lottery prizes ever

The world welcomed a new instant multimillionaire (or multimillionaires) on Tuesday night. One ticket sold in South Carolina overcame drastic odds to win the largest-ever Mega Millions jackpot of more than $1.5 billion. Facing odds of 1 in 302.6-million, the winning ticket finally ended weeks of anticipation after no winning tickets were sold for the lottery since July 24.

The picture illustrating the story seems to have been taken from this Twitter account and it makes no mention of being a lottery winner.

One thing is certain though: the site that published the story is a prank website where users can submit their own headline, description and photo to create realistic looking prank news articles.

react365.jpg

Users don't even need to upload their own image, there is a built-in search function that will pull an appropriate image from Google image search.

The site is part of a larger network of prank sites all using the same basic layout but sometimes in different languages. It appears to be run by a Belgian company named Mediavibes or Media Vibes which is managed by a man named Nicolas Gouriou according to registration records.

Each site in the network comes with a disclaimer (sometimes translated into a different language) that reads:

This website is an entertainment website, jokes are created by users. These are humourous jokes, fantasy, fictional, that should not be seriously taken or as a source of information.

So don't fall for this prank now that we've warned you about it!

We wrote about nsfnews.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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