Automated Competition Entry Services Threaten Prize Sponsors

Published on 4th May 2011

If you run an online competition then hopefully you’re keeping an eye out for automated competition entry services. We’ve already told you, thanks to Chocolate Reviews, about email accounts to look out for, but thanks now to Sixyplusurfers we have more details for you. Every month, Sixtyplusurfers run a lot of competitions. Most are entered via email and entries go to their hotmail account, but occasionally some entries are made direct to sponsors.

This week an automated service targeted one of Sixtyplusurfer’s sponsored competitions, resulting in their Features Editor Jenny Itzcovitz contacting us. Here’s what she had to say.

We have recently experienced problems with Competition syndicates entering Sixtyplusurfers Competitions. The problem is that they enter ‘en masse’ using a mailing list and do not even visit our website. We put a lot of hard work into our website and have regular readers, so we feel this is a form of cheating.

We receive hundreds of emails from identically formatted addresses and this is unfair on all genuine readers. When you try to reply to these emails – they are incorrect – and we are given the message ‘postmaster failure’.

We feel this is a form of spamming – as the numbers are very large and extremely difficult to handle. The companies who offer us the prizes are also unhappy when they receive these entries as they are not genuine. They want real readers to win their prizes.

We hope other websites will join us in putting a stop to such syndicates and ensure that winners are chosen from genuine compers, rather than a team of computers! We advise all compers to avoid using competition websites that tell you that they will ‘win competitions for you effortlessly’!

It’s believed, from site logs, that these entries came a company called Prize500. This site “will sign you up for hundreds of competitions each month. We do this by sending emails or postcards with the correct answer on your behalf”. In other words they take your money, enter you into competitions, and you probably get disqualified.

What Should Promoters Look Out For?

In this case you need to look out for hotmail accounts – especially entering en-masse at roughly the same time. Jenny told us that they all have a distinct pattern too.

All the automated entries came from a (First Name)(Surname)(Number)@hotmail.com account.

Our advice to Jenny is to complain to Hotmail. Their service is being used to spam websites from multiple accounts, usually managed by a third party. The Hotmail terms state that users “must keep accounts and passwords confidential and not authorize any third party to access or use the service on your behalf” – so if a third party is running entries that may well be a breach of these terms. It’s worth a try!

Hopefully if enough promoters step up to complain then this avenue can be closed.

Sadly it’s unlikely that the automated entry sites will just stop, but hopefully these blogs are starting to highlight the problems. If you’re a comper or promoter and are sat thinking that this isn’t a big deal then perhaps the last word from Jenny may resonate a little louder. She told us “we are in danger of losing the companies who supply us with prizes if we can’t stop automated entries”.

The good news is that there’s another site on the lookout for these kind of entries, and thanks to Jenny and Sixtyplusurfers we have more information on for promoters to act on.

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