Sunday 7 October 2012

Vigilantes v. Cheats

This morning I got a text telling me I had £2,013 of  PPI to reclaim. The person who sent it was trying to cheat me in some way (No, I'm not going to reply to it to find out how). When I logged into my email account, I found half a dozen emails telling me I had won millions of dollars in foreign lotteries, or asking me to help transfer funds out of Nigeria. Yet again, somebody was trying to cheat me.

The world is full of cheats, and because of the attraction of getting something for nothing, comping attracts cheats like flies to a jam pot. There are people who set up multiple accounts in order to enter competitions dozens, hundreds or even thousands of times. This week a promoter told me of someone in the Ukraine who has thousands of fake IDs and has their computer programmed to constantly enter every competition they can find in each of the IDs.

Armed with such alarming statistics, it is very tempting to point and shout "CHEAT!" when we suspect that somebody isn't playing by the rules. But wait a minute..... this is Britain, and at the very heart of British law is the idea that a person is innocent until they are proved to be guilty. And this is a principle that we should all bear in mind before being the first to lay blame on somebody. Who are we to know what the facts are if a person appears ot have several Facebook accounts or is winning more than we think they statistically should? You might suspect them of cheating - but that is very, very different from having concrete proof.

Publicly "naming and shaming" and outing of suspected cheats can have a devastating effect on the life of somebody who is wrongly accused - just read the moving accounts of some of the victims quoted on Kelly Martin's blog .

So what CAN you do if you think somebody is cheating? Well, first of all, think about whether it affects you. If that person has gained an unfair advantage over you, and you think it genuinely IS unfair, then rather than confronting them, contact the promoter with your suspicions. And do present them as suspicions, not as facts. The promoter will have far more access to evidence that will prove or disprove your suspicion, for instance even a small blog running a competition through Rafflecopter will be able to check the IP address of all entrants. A bigger business with their own website will be able to check far more, even the version of browser software used by the entrant, so will soon be able to identify any genuine cheating. If a promoter can prove that there has been any element of cheating, it's up to them to decide what to do. Most of them will quietly disqualify the cheat, without making any kind of song and dance about it, sparing the feelings  of all concerned. Compers, whether honest ones or cheats, are human beings with real feelings. (Well apart from the occasional comping bot on Twitter - but more about those some other time)

And if you personally aren't affected? Maybe somebody else has told you about a cheat they have heard of, or you have seen somebody "named and shamed" on Facebook? Well, don't join a gang of vigilantes, looking to stir up trouble. Just shrug your shoulders, ask yourself "Am I having fun yet?" and move on to a  different competition.

By all means unfriend somebody if you don't feel happy about the way they enter competitions on Facebook, or unfollow or block them  on Twitter, but just do it quietly with no fuss and then forget all about them. Comping is a hobby, and something we do for pleasure. If somebody's behaviour is making it less of a pleasure for you, simply shut them out of your life!


  1. Well written blog Jane and thanks for sharing my blog. And how true, if your not having fun move on. My motto totally. As I have been accused of cheating(from gossip heard) I laugh it off as I feel its all about having fun. Have fun, be positive, good feelings really make a difference in entering competitions. I simply block people if they affect my good feelings, much like offline life, no need to have draining people in ones life.

    Thanks for sharing xxxx

  2. Nice insight but one of the people on Kellys blog is a proven cheat and is at this moment in time being investigated by a popular womans weekly magazine for stealing work and reproducing it as her own.

    1. I didn't actually say that any of the people were innocent - or guilty. It's not for me to judge as I don't have all the evidence, in particular access to IP addresses. That's the whole point. Investigation by the promoter, or even by the law, is one thing.A group of compers who take the law into their own hands is quite a differnet one. Nobody has a right to bully another person, whether that person is innocent or guilty. Two wrongs will never make a right.

  3. I read this with interest Jane, very informative too.

  4. Jane,
    I so agree with you. Our hobby is fun. Winning is even more fun.
    All this vigilante stuff is disgraceful.
    I was once shocked to read on a wellknown comper's blog the names of facebook so called cheats. And that many came from Totnes, a place I adore. I thought it was a case for libel.
    So many bad losers around.
    Sylvia Robbins

  5. It always amazes me that people have the time!!!! I love to comp... and I have to go out to work, do household chores, run mum's taxi service PA to hopeless hubby... how would I know who was cheating? I congratulate anyone who wins, that I see on my timeline- ask questions about the experience, because I am nosey!!! and pouffff move on...

  6. Great post Jane, I don't know how people find the time to cheat or turn vigilante. Running my monthly giveaways I have come across people I suspect cheat but wouldn't dream of outing the names in public in case I was wrong.


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