Posts Tagged: Prizes

Mayor McCheese Catches the Hamburglar (A Look at the Instant Win Games Scams)

You’re offered a $1 million game piece for $40,000 dollars.  What do you do?  As you might expect, this may be an offer you can’t refuse.

A recent and very comprehensive article in the Daily Beast, provides an in-depth look at how the history of McDonald’s Monopoly Game has involved McStings, mobsters and molls.  I will not go as in-depth, since I am confined to the fate of the billable hour, but the article raises a number of interesting points concerning the efforts scammers will take to cash in on that golden ticket, including, like our protagonist here, selling it to a purported Colombo crime family member, who, according to the article, looked like Al Capone and was obsessed with The Godfather(more…)

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The 2018 Most Interesting Super Contests for the Super Bowl

The noted football lover, Karl Lagerfeld, once said, “Clear thinking at the wrong moment can stifle creativity.”  (This coming from a man who has dressed in the same outfit for 50 years.)  This year, the marketers have thrown away the playbooks, sidestepped clear thinking and used Bill Belichik-like creativity to come up with some fun promotional contests for Super Bowl Sunday:

Get Your Hands Off My Car. Not since the days of Otto Graham have kids flocked around a car with their hands firmly planted hoping to make it into overtime and win that precious hotrod. Mercedes-Benz has updated this contest for the 21st century. (more…)

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2017: The Stories that Weren’t, Taken from the Tales of the Twilight Zone

“It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”  Rod Serling.

Sweepstakes prizes, lottery scams, influencer marking and excessive branding were popular themes throughout 2017.  Let’s take a look back in “the dimension of imagination” to illustrate how promotions (can) influence our lives. (more…)

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What Prizes Can/Can’t Be Given Away

Some things you may not be able to give as prizes:

– Smokes (MA, MI, VA)
– Gas (NJ, VA)
– Beer (many states)
– Milk (restricted in a number of states)
– iPad (formerly)
– Yankees tickets (because they may contain a no-transfer provision)
– Puppies (most states)

(more…)

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One Whale of a Story $2MM Fishing Contest Prize in Dispute After Failed Polygraph Test

Fishermen(persons?) say that the strongest currents yield the biggest catch.  Or at least I think they say that; I really don’t fish.  But there’s a storm a brewing in Maryland federal court over a disputed $2.8 million first prize in the “world’s largest billfish tournament,” known as the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland. White Marlin Open, Inc. v. Heasley, No. 1:16-cv-03015 (D. Md.)

Entering anglers had to pay a $1,000 fee to register their boat and winners received a prize based upon the type/size of fish caught and the total entry fees.   Phillip G. Heasley allegedly caught the only qualifying white marlin which would purportedly qualify him for a $2.8 million prize.  Pursuant to the contest rules, the Sponsor could require him to take a polygraph test.  He did.  He was found to have used “countermeasures” to manipulate the examination process.  Ooh, the plot thickens. The boat’s captain and crew were also given polygraph tests which purportedly helped sink Heasley.  Apparently, the claim is that Heasley’s catch report had a catch time of 8:15 a.m. that was written over with a time of 9:05 a.m..  The Official Rules state that anglers cannot fish until after 8:30 a.m.  Waiting to snare the big prize were the other winners.

The Sponsor, after conferring with the three independent judges, determined Heasely was disqualified.  The Sponsor then filed an Interpleader action in Maryland state court (which was later removed to federal court) seeking to deposit the prize money in escrow and let Heasely and the other winners fight it out.  But the Sponsor didn’t stop there.  The Official Rules provided that the Sponsor “shall be entitled to reimbursement for 5 times its costs and fees, including attorneys’ fees, which result from the determination and resolution of the validity of unjustified protests.”  The Sponsor then sought 5x its attorneys’ fees in the lawsuit. (more…)

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“You Are [NOT] a Winner” Consent Order Entered Against Printer/Mailer of Deceptive Prize Notifications

On February 9, 2017, a consent order was entered in favor of the FTC against the general manager of a company engaged to procure printing and mailing of deceptive prize notifications.  The individual got laminated for $800,000 (subject to reduction).

The lesson: anyone involved with deceptive prize/sweepstakes/contests mailings could get in serious trouble.

According to the Complaint, the sponsor, using the aforementioned company, mailed hundreds of thousands of personalized cash prize notifications announcing that the recipients had won a cash prize of $943,543.54.  (NB: maybe a million dollars outright seemed too suspicious?)

Of course, the offer was made to sound juicy: “YOU HAVE WON A CASH PRIZE! … Your name was identified among a tiny percentage of ALL eligible individuals.  The fact that you have won a cash prize must be thrilling and somewhat overwhelming.”

Of course, they targeted the elderly.  Of course, they asked for a “fee” of $25 to collect the prize.  Of course, people complied.  And of course, they didn’t get the cash prize.

Why go after the printer/mailer?  The sponsor gave him the electronic templates of the prize notifications, the outer envelopes and the return envelopes, and instructed him on the quantities to print, who to mail them too, and when to mail them.  (He may have done some editing too.)  He then arranged for the notices to be printed and mailed out.  According to the FTC this was enough to be in on the scheme. (more…)

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