Two women with a very solid plan to make money and perhaps a shaky grasp of Pennsylvania gambling law were foiled last month in a glorious but short-lived Facebook raffle scheme. Recently-filed criminal complaints estimate that admins Brittany Winings, 32, of Northern Cambria and Tiffany Dupas, 26, of Patton, made a collective $US81,507.40 ($120,813) in PayPal bids over the course of two months last summer via their group “BID WIN SAVE.” Needless to say, the duo possibly did not anticipate the googling capabilities of the Pennsylvania State Police. The investigation was brief, and the two admitted to administering the page late last year.
“BID WIN SAVE” has since been removed from Facebook (which spells out its no-gambling policy here: no gambling), so we’ll have to trust the description from the criminal complaint. It describes “BID WIN SAVE” as “a Facebook group that bids off prizes with a specified number of biding[sic] spots and charging a specific amount of money per spot. Once all spots are filled, a wheel is spun and a winner is chosen.” The complaint estimates that the women made about $US40 ($59)-$US60 ($89) per post.
Bidding, check. Winning, purportedly. Saving, also possible: prizes included not only cash and gift cards, but also electronics, furniture, kitchen supplies, tools, and, yes, Pennsylvania, heating oil. Don’t knock “BID WIN SAVE” members from trying to get in on that action; with over 2,000 members as of July 2019, members had pretty decent odds.
Most ingeniously, they threw in lottery tickets.
“Gambling is something that the state police takes very seriously,” Pennsylvania State Police Communications Director Ryan Tarkowski told Gizmodo, and this is coming from a state where you have to drive like 15 miles (24km) to the nearest government-operated liquor store if you want to buy a bottle of wine. Winings and Dupas have been charged with disorderly conduct and three first-degree gambling-related misdemeanours including the unlawful production of “gambling devices” (in the unforgiving state of Pennsylvania, their unsanctioned lottery wheel is illegal). If found guilty on all counts, they could face up to 15 years in prison and/or fines of $US30,000 ($44,467).