Can you withhold a prize from a fraudster?

To be clear: Prizeology would have awarded the prize. We’re well aware that people cheat when they enter our promotions. It’s often the same people and it’s shocking how brazen and dishonest they are (although perhaps not when you look at the example set by some of those in public life…).

Anyway, we go to great lengths to verify all entries, because it’s only fair for our clients and those who enter our promotions. We disqualify those who have entered fraudulently, but if there is an element of doubt, we go ahead and award the prize.

Instagram promotion

So in the ASA ruling we’re discussing here, a personal fitness trainer, based in the North West and going by the name of DT Fitness, posted the following on Instagram (and sorry about the caps, but that’s how it appeared online): ‘HERES WHAT YOU CAN WIN [partying face emoji] … APPLE WATCH SERIES 7 … APPLE EAR PODS NEW … 4 PINEAPPLE MONSTERS … 5 FREE PTS SESSIONS … £50 CASH … 2 MONTHS ONLINE COACHING. To enter all you have to do is: 1 Follow me … 2 Like this post … 3 Share this post on your Story and Tag Me … 4 Tag 3 friends below … Winners will be announced on 15 July at Midday!!…”.

The complainant was one of the winners, but they didn’t receive their prize, so they challenged whether the promotion had been conducted fairly and contacted the ASA. DT Fitness’ response was that they had not awarded the prize to the complainant, because they were concerned about the legitimacy of the complainant’s Instagram account.

Duped by a dupe?

DT Fitness said that at the time the prize draw was active, DT Fitness’ own Instagram account had been duplicated by another Instagram user, who ran a copycat promotion with the same prizes on offer. The fake account had then added the followers of the genuine DT Fitness account and asked people to pay to receive the prizes.

DT Fitness said that due to their concerns about the duplicate account, they were suspicious of the complainant’s Instagram account and concluded – all very Colleen Rooney – that the same person who had set up the duplicate account was attempting to fraudulently win a prize. As a result of those concerns, they decided not to award the prize to the complainant.

Insufficient evidence

In support of its case DT Fitness did provide screenshots of the account in question and the ASA acknowledged that DT Fitness believed a fake Instagram account had been created. It also noted that DT Fitness had supplied screenshots showing it had awarded prizes to other winners of the promotion.

However, the ASA ruled against DT Fitness, because it didn’t understand how the fake Instagram account could influence winner selection and because DT Fitness hadn’t provided any evidence of a link between the fake Instagram account and the complainant’s Instagram account.

Therefore, the ASA held that DT Fitness did not have a justifiable reason for withholding the prize from the complainant and, because the promotion had not been administered fairly, the CAP Code had been breached.

Can you withhold a prize from a fraudster? As we said above, Prizeology would have awarded the prize. We are compliance specialists and we always award the prize unless we can categorically prove that it shouldn’t be awarded. However, If you’re DT Fitness you probably feel that this was a harsh decision and we do have some sympathy for DT Fitness, because whatever the details of this particular case, the cheats and fraudsters are definitely out there.

You can trust Prizeology with all aspects of your prize promotion. To find out more, just give us a call on 020 7856 0402 or drop us a line on hello@prizeology.com.

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist.

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