Watch CBS News

Scammers Impersonating Oprah Winfrey On Instagram To Get Victims To Send Them Money

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Oprah Winfrey is using social media to spread a warning to her fans.

It seems scammers are trying to impersonate her in what's known as a "like-farming" scam.

Winfrey is on the offensive against online scammers pretending to be her.

"It's a fraud," said Winfrey.

Police Investigating Alleged Sexual Assault At Delaware Middle School

The fake accounts popped up on Instagram this month, promising to give $5,000 to each of their first 100,000 followers.

Their names suggested they were affiliated with OWN, Winfrey's TV network, and their posts even celebrated her kindness.

These fake accounts often use real videos from Winfrey, but profiles like these don't have blue checkmarks indicating they are verified Instagram accounts.

"Somebody out there is trying to scam you using my name and my avatar on social media, asking for money if you sign up for an OWN account on Instagram," said Winfrey.

Victor Ockleberry, 63, recently saw a Facebook post claiming Winfrey and Tyler Perry were giving away cars and other prizes. He says he became suspicious when people were asked to send money to Jamaica to cover taxes and fees.

"If they had said I would have won, more than likely I would have sent $750 to Jamaica, because that's just how much I believe in Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey," said Ockleberry.

'Merry Christmas From: Anonymous': Philadelphia Man Giving Cards With Money To Homeless This Holiday Season

Winfrey has been responding to commenters on her official Instagram account by letting them know she's not involved in any giveaways.

"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," said Winfrey.

An Instagram spokeswoman told CBS News, "We apologize to Oprah and any Instagrammers who may have been affected by these fake accounts. When we catch violating activity, we work to counter and prevent it, including blocking accounts."

About 100 phony Winfrey accounts have been removed so far.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.