Thousands of people have been taken in by a fake Twitter account claiming to have been set up by former Hartlepool EuroMillions jackpot winner Patrick Connolly.
Mr Connolly and his wife Frances, who lived in town for 25 years, scooped a life-changing £114.9 million in the lottery’s New Year’s Day draw and went public about their big win near their Northern Ireland home last Friday.
The couple revealed how they had drawn up a list of more than 50 family and friends who would be sharing in their good fortune – the fourth biggest ever lottery win in the United Kingdom - with Hartlepool’s St Francis community football club also set to benefit.
Later the same day, however, a Twitter account was set up in the name of @Pat_conolly.
The account carries pictures of Patrick and Frances Connolly and the bio says: “£115 million euromillions jackpot winner, family man, brexiteer and proud unionist.”
It also includes a link to a YouTube channel, which people are asked to subscribe to, and urges people to retweet, like and follow to be in with a chance of winning a share of the couple’s huge fortune.
The fake Twitter account attracted almost 46,000 followers in just a few days.
One post last Friday said: “As you all know me and my wife have won the £115 euromillions jackpot, we’re looking for 50 people to give some of the winnings away to, retweet, like and follow for a chance to win! #EuroMillions”
It adds: “Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for an additional chance to win! We will be uploading some very nice holiday videos of me and my wife there soon!”
A pinned tweet, also posted on January 4, said: “Thanks for all the support everyone, once my YouTube channel reaches 10,000 subscribers I’ll draw the winners! Good luck everyone!”
Thousands of people have been taken in by the fake account, which has attracted almost 46,000 followers in just a few days.
More than 4,200 people have subscribed to the associated YouTube channel.
Hundreds of people have left messages on the Twitter feed congratulating the couple on their big win, and many have posted pleas for donations for good causes, community enterprises and charitable projects.
Many others though have posted on the page to warn users that it is a fake account and urge people not to fall for the scam.
A spokesperson for The National Lottery confirmed that the @Pat_conolly Twitter account is nothing to do with the EuroMillions winners.
They said: “The National Lottery, winners of The National Lottery and other lotteries are sometimes falsely imitated on the internet in a variety of ways – often to try to make people believe they are going to be entitled to money.
“We would urge people to remember that, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.”