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ICSTIS finds luckiest man alive

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A three time winner of a text entry competition attracted the attention of premium rate regulator the ICSTIS, which has dished out fines totalling £8,000 to the organisers of two lotteries, or possibly one, for misleading promotion.

On the 11 July, Mr G Hazel not only won £250 on a draw at gr8prizes.com, but the same week he won the same amount at Txtpromo. A lucky man indeed, but Mr Hazel's good fortune didn't stop there. The following week he apparently won both draws again, and the next week another two top prizes went his way.

This was too much for the ICSTIS, which noted: "In the opinion of the Secretariat, it was unlikely that the same person would have won three weeks in a row by being randomly selected."

Mr Hazel wasn't limited to winning cash. He could have won an iPod or a Nokia 8800 - at least that is the impression given on the gr8prizes website. The reality is, however, that only one prize was ever awarded each week.

Other complaints about the draw(s) included the use of apparently unsolicited text messages to promote the lottery, which failed to contain required billing information.

The companies concerned admitted that the two draws were actually one, but contended they were marketed to different people. Those sent promotional messages had opted in on a previous occasion some time ago, ticking a box agreeing to receive promotional material, so the messages weren't, strictly speaking, unsolicited.

Mr Hazel had, apparently, won £250 once, after which the chap who updated the winner's website had gone on holiday for a couple of weeks, leading to the apparent multiple wins shown.

The ICSTIS swallowed the opt-in line, and the holidaying webmaster, but the lack of billing information and the fact that there was only ever one prize, and one draw, led to fines totalling £6,500 for mBlox, who hosted the service and £1,500 for Mobizar, who ran it, with both also receiving a severe reprimand. ®

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