Why nobody ever wins the car at the mall

BY Zachary Crockett


In the middle of the Great Mall in Milpitas, California, a shiny, brand-new, blue 2018 Acura TLX (MSRP $33k) sits ready for the taking.

Surrounding the vehicle are 10 screens, where mall-goers can enter their personal data — full name, phone number, income, credit card type — for a chance to win the “grand prize.” In the course of an hour on a Wednesday afternoon, 22 hopefuls fill out the digital form.

In a few weeks’ time, they’ll all be bombarded with the same scammy call: “Congratulations! Your name was recently drawn! All you have to do is come down to [X] and attend a presentation to claim your prize.”

Who runs these sweepstakes? What do they do with our information? Does anyone ever win the damn car?

These seemingly simple questions led me down a vortex of shady marketing tactics, timeshare salesmen, and third-party resale markets — and exposed the dirty underbelly of how our information is brokered.





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