“What do you have behind your back?” I asked my husband, Bob.

“What do you think it is?” He showed me the $1 scratch ticket.

“Bob, you said you wouldn’t waste money on these anymore.”

He grinned and gave it to me. It was a $40 winner.

“What on earth is going to motivate you to stop gambling if you keep winning?” I said.

“Losing,” he said.

“But you never do. Every month you get a winning check from the State Lottery Commission.” I went to his desk and pointed to the stack of scratch tickets. I looked through them and said, astonished, “Each one is a winner!”

“You weren’t against gambling when I was on TV in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (He really was, with Regis.)

“Bob, gambling will get the better of you someday. You’ve got to stop.”

The very next day, an email came in. The subject line was: “CONGRATULATIONS FROM GSN!”

I said, “Oh no. Now we’re getting scammed.”

The email essentially read:


Dear Bob,

CONGRATULATIONS from Game Show Network, LLC, on winning the Winsanity Sweepstakes. The components of your grand prize include:

• one (1) $100 Chicago Steaks gift card

• $5,000 cash (awarded as a check)


They asked for an affidavit of eligibility and publicity/liability release, a copy of his picture identification card (his license), his W-9 form, and his tax compliance form.

“I’m deleting this!” I said.

But Bob stopped me. “I did play Winsanity.”

Winsanity is a game show on TV. To play, one watches the show live, sees the questions, and logs in to answer them on a cellphone.

“You’re going to give them our W-9 form? They’ll have our Social Security number and God knows what else. Our banking information? They’ll steal our identity!”

I replied to the email, “I’d like proof that you really are GSN.”

They replied with the address of Game Show Network, along with the GSN website. Now, you know, anyone can send that address and website. I couldn’t talk Bob out of it. He sent in everything they requested.

Their next email read, “There is one additional document we’ll need you to sign. It’s a tax compliance form.” On that form, we were told we’d need to send them money first.

“The winner must pay California income tax in the amount of $357 before the prize can be released.”

I replied that we would not send them money.

Amazingly enough, we received a gift card for $100 for the steaks.

Weeks later, Bob handed me an envelope from the mail. The return address was from Game Show Network. His hands shook as he painstakingly slowly opened the envelope.

Inside was a check for $5,000.

He was ecstatic. “I won $5,000!”

Still suspicious, I said, “Honey, I know you’re thrilled, but let’s wait for it to clear.”

It cleared the next day.

“What do you want to do with the money?” I said. “Give some to charity? Take a vacation?”

He used $10 of it buying 10 scratch tickets. He won $170.

Award-winning, nationally syndicated columnist Saralee Perel can be reached at sperel@saraleeperel.com or via her website: www.saraleeperel.com

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