Sunday, March 25, 2007

Free Scratchcards

A scratchcard fell out of the Sunday Times - "Win £1 million", and surprise - when the kids scratched it, it turned out to be a 'Gold Winner'. As 90% of the scratchcards that fall out of the paper are.

A long but hopefully educational debate ensued, with a few googles for 'Purely Creative scratchcard scam' or similar. Surprise again - they had been fined by ICSTIS, the toothless premium phone number regulator.

It's a dirty business - give me a good honest shoplifter any day. The phones to claim a 'prize' cost £9. Only prizewinners will phone, as the scratchcards are free. So the prizes - such as they are - read the message boards or google to find out - are paid for by the phone calls. You don't need an economics degree to work out that to make a profit they're not going to be giving much away. I imagine the people who fall for this are either a) young and gullible b) elderly and trusting.

The economics aren't too bad. Let's say the prize is worth £2, the calls cost £9 - £7 a throw. Send out half a million of these, 20,000 mugs ring in (no idea what the response is BTW) - that's 140K. An ICSTIS fine of £2k isn't exactly going to make a hole in that.

Purely Creative are apparently owned by DM plc, who are quoted on the AIM market. They're based in Lancaster, which rang a bell. A company called Monstermob used to be based there, also not unknown to the ICSTIS regulator. I seem to recall the then owner, some sharp young guy, being presented with a Young Businessman award by the local Tory MP. Gullibility isn't confined to teenagers and OAPs.

I took a look at the current board of Monstermob. Blimey - they certainly live up to their name. Santiago Jack ? Where's Frisco Valdez, One-Eye Martinez and Valparaiso Pete ?

UPDATE - just when you think things can't get any lower - some entrepreneurial types have had the bright idea of selling the 'prizes' on ebay ! A £9 investment sells for £100 !

This guy only got £19 back. Look at this for an honest sales pitch.

I have just won a holiday for 1 to Spain on a scratch card. Having already booked my holiday I reluctantly let this one to slip for a bargain price.

You will receive a scratch card with already obtained claim code (cost me £9 to phone 0906 to confirm the prize), so the only thing you will need to do is to fill in your details and send it to the travel agent, Purely Creative, which is a reputable company so there won’t be any worries there. If you have any questions about the holiday you can call Purely creative on 08700 500 755 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday).)


Anonymous said...

I've entered this specific "prize" today, not out of any hope of winning. Like many I (obviously) won a "top" prize but I sent off for my claim number by recorded post just out of curiousity of how they get around it. i'm no idiot - I just want to beat the scammers in some way. Please excuse the excessive use of quotation marks.

Bystander said...

As Eli Wallach said in The Magnificent Seven, "If God had not meant them to be shorn he would not haave made them sheep"

fay said...

I wish I read all these comments before I played that cash prize thing. Lost £30 including textes and stamps and never heard from them again. The only thing they got me send them a letter was to get my phone expense back. Oh plus they sold my personal information and now I am getting lots of unwanted text messages. I wish they will all die in big misery and rotten in hell. It is not like you play the national lottery and agree on losing or winning. They promise you send your £10 but they don't. This is fraud! Why noone does anything about it!!!! Why do all the respectful newspapers allow these filty thing get into their pages???

Laban said...

Fay - I'm surprised too that they seem to be getting away with it. Perhaps the Sunday Times should investigate...

Anonymous said...

I thought the EU outlawed this type of scratch card.