Tales From The Clever Dude: Snail Mail Scam
Last Saturday, the wife and I were at home enjoying our day off. My wife was scurrying around our home tending to her ever-growing harem of house plants. While I was in our living room screaming at the television playing Call of Duty Warzone. As I had just finished telling my good friend and teammate how much of a dumpster fire his performance was, my wife laid what looked like a lottery ticket in front of me.
The paper resembled the large scratch-off tickets you can buy at gas stations with the Monopoly man on it. I picked it up and saw that it said “Grand prize of $25,000 and to match the symbols to see if you won.” My wife had already removed the tabs so when I looked down I saw six money bags in a row signifying we had won something. Under more inspection of the ticket, I couldn’t find what we had won. Everything was very vague and nowhere on the ticket did it say what each symbol represented.
In disbelief, I kept reading and found that this “scratch-off ticket” was from a Kia dealership less than three miles from our house. This was an immediate red flag for me since I was a professional auto mechanic for 15 years. At this point, I knew that this was a scam but I wondered who’s scam? Was it the dealership’s bait and switch attempt to get me to buy a car? I have seen tons of those promotions before. Or was it someone trying to steal our credit card numbers and identity? So I decided to play along.
I googled the Kia dealership and found that their listed phone number did not match the number on the ticket. So, I decided to ring the dealer and see if it was even halfway legit. They explained that it was a real promotion and acted surprised that someone would even consider it fake. Now I know how all those Nigerian princes get so rich.
After finding out that it was actually from the dealership, I decided to give it a shot. I knew for legal reasons that there had to be a winner in the batch or it is fraud. From my experience of working in car dealerships, I knew it was a long shot but figured why not?
So, I called the number on the ticket and surprisingly spoke to a real human person. They asked for the pin number on the back of the ticket and my name and address. I obliged and they ask me to set up an appointment to come in and claim my prize. I said I could come today so I decided to head up there.
Claiming our Prize
When I got to the Kia dealership a salesman greeted me and I showed him the ticket. We sat down and he immediately asks me what kind of car I drive. I cut him off there and told him I was not interested in buying a Kia. He pressed on with his pitch and asked me what I did for a living and I told him that I review cars for a living, because I do. After that, the huge salesman’s smile on his face faded, and the pitch was over. He escorted me to a large television screen with a knock-off wheel of fortune on it. He entered the pin number on the back of my ticket and the wheel spun. I had won the consolation prize of either a Bluetooth speaker, wireless headphones, or a smartwatch. Out of pure curiosity to see how terrible it was, I chose the “watch.” He comes back and gives me a small package that says “Smart Bracelet.”
I went home and opened the package to find it was the cheapest thing I had ever held in my hands. The wife and I had a good laugh and put it on our dog so he can check his heart rate during playtime.
Was it a Scam?
The moral of the story is this: if you receive one of these promotions in your mailbox, just throw it away. The system is rigged to make you think you won something so that when you come to claim it they can try to sell you something. Trust me, these scams have been meticulously thought out to skirt the fraud laws so don’t waste your time.
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Drew Blankenship is a former Porsche technician and lifelong automotive enthusiast. Recently, he began writing for several websites and is enjoying the career change. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and their dog Enzo.