Moral question about junk mail - sweepstakes winning ticket

I moved to this house less than a month ago.

USPS does not forward junk mail. I’ve not received any non-junk mail in the previous owner’s name. So clearly her address change went through.

I got a piece of junk mail for a local car dealership, and there’s a sweepstakes.

Mail addressed to : Previous owner’s name OR new resident - this I think is very important

Sweepstakes ticket is a $5,000 cash winner. There’s a phone# to call a computer to answer questions. It addresses me as the previous owner.

The previous owner is a widow who is in her 50’s, empty nester. She’s still working and bought a new place so she’s not poor, and got a big check for her house that I bought.

Do I have a moral obligation to give the ticket to her or am I morally permitted to redeem it? I know I’m legally permitted to redeem it.

Just be careful that it is not a scam.

Who’s name is actually on the check? If it is yours, then it belongs to you; if it is the other lady, then do your best to see that she gets it or return it to the dealership. If the check is not made out to a particular person, then it is most likely an advertising gimmick and feel free to shred it.

If its addressed the way you stated…its a gimmick to get someone/ anyone into the dealership, if it was a real sweepstakes winning, they would send out notification by certified mail.

Ive seen many things like this in the mail, most of them look very real, but when you read the fine print, the $5000. is usually the amount they will give for a trade in, or willing to knock off the price of the car.

The morally appropriate thing to do here is tear up this junk mail and throw it out (recycle of course). :wink:

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I’d say that it is 100% not offering you or anyone else $5,000. Sorry to disappoint you. :slight_smile:

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Its a scam. Throw it away

No, it is not a check. It is a ticket that you open up and it discloses how much is won.

The name on the letter is made out to previous owner’s name OR current resident. As I’m the current resident…this is legally made out to me as well.

I read the fine print. Odds of winning are 1:20,000 and there’s an insurance company listed, so it appears legit and not a scam. It is the 2nd prize and a $5,000 cash prize.

1st prize is $20,000 cash and the odds are 1:20,000 for that. Third prize are 3 Illinois lottery tickets, with odds being 19,997:20,000.

As I opened up the ticket, I told my wife “I am using my mega psychic powers to say I’m going to win the 3 lottery tickets” (in a swami voice, being a big joke and all) because it is a gimmick to get into the dealership with few people actually winning the big prizes, with the odds being so small.

I was surprised to see an actual cash prize, beating the odds.

I had something like this before at another dealership, the third prize was $5 (odds of winning: 19,997:20,000) and they actually paid it, the terms and conditions were worded just like this with same odds and everything, so I do think this is legit.


So back to my original question: Am I morally obligated to give this to her? I clearly am legally OK as the letter is addressed to current resident.

It is hard to believe that you are interpreting everything correctly but are struggling with the current resident part. It says current resident which you are. Enjoy your new car you will be buying…

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Agreed - I don’t think a real winner would be asked to call and answer “questions” asked by a computer. Read the rules and fine print carefully,

But if it was real, it was addressed to “new resident,” so it is for you.

Let us know what you find out!

I get things like this all the time. Most of the time you have to take the ticket to the dealership, listen to a sales pitch, and then they peel off and redeem the ticket, or look up your number to see what you won. This is legitimate, as I have done this when wanting to purchase a car, but calling up and answering questions from a computer sounds fishy. I did not have to answer any questions or give any information.

The best thing to do is to call up the dealership and ask them about it. If it is a scam, you can also report it to the police, so our police department has said.

I think it’s more likely that you got a $5,000 discount off an artificially inflated car price. Morally you don’t even have to tell the prior resident anything. It’s addressed to you so it’s yours. If you go and they give you cash without first saddling you with 5 years of car payments and you still feel guilty then you can donate the cash to charity.

This is obviously an advertisement offering a new car for sale. If you are not interested, I don’t see any obligation to put yourself out.

Put the ticket and everything else that came with it back in the original envelope, tape it shut, mark it “Not at this address” and drop in in the mailbox. Let the Post Office handle it.

No obligation because there are no real winnings.
Be at peace.
It’s clever advertising to fool naïve people.
You’re fine.

If you truly think its real, ask the dealership, or the insurance company for the official list of winners for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes, ALL REAL lottery and sweepstakes contests provide these to anyone who asks.

Ask yourself why a car dealership would be in the sweepstakes business in the first place? How would people be entered into it, or where would they get all the people to compete? Not to mention, if its a car dealership, why is not one of the prizes a car, or at least a big discount on a car?

Do let us know what you find out though.

I say this with great charity:

It should not take 14 posts on an Internet forum on “moral theology” to determine exactly what to do with a piece of junk mail.

It is gone now. So no more issues with this piece of junk mail.

It was a trick to get you into the dealership. Everyone’s mailing makes it look like they won the top prize. I get at least 3 of these types of things from car dealers each year. Every single time it says I’ve won the top prize.

Here’s an article explaining the trickery:

The guy’s ticket said he’d won $20,000, the people on the phone confirmed, and yet “…when he got to the Gary Mathews dealership, Galarza said employees there told him that every mailer had that same winning combination and that it was really the activation code on back that determines the prize.”

Anytime a stranger that you haven’t initiated contact with wants to give you something for nothing, they are either scamming you or selling to you.

Right. All one need do is ask himself why anyone in business to make money would give away a lot of money. :shrug:

That sounds about right, but really by law, someone DOES have to win.

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