NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Oprah Winfrey is on the offensive against online scammers pretending to be her.
Fake accounts popped up on Instagram this month, promising $5,000 to each of their first 100,000 followers.
The names of the fake accounts suggested they were affiliated with OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s TV network, and the posts even celebrated Winfrey’s kindness.
The fake accounts often use real videos, and show her with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King.
The profiles don’t have blue checkmarks indicating they are verified Instagram accounts.
“I just wanted you to know that 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,” Oprah warned her followers. “It’s a fraud, it’s a fraud, it’s a fraud!”
Victor Ockleberry, a 63-year-old retiree, recently saw a Facebook post claiming Winfrey and Tyler Perry were giving away cars and other prizes.
“It’s Christmastime. You’re taking advantage of people,” Ockleberry said.
He says he became suspicious when people were asked to send money to Jamaica to cover taxes and fees.
“If they had 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,” he said.
Winfrey has been responding to commenters on her official Instagram account, 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,” Oprah said.
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.