I’ve been an Instagram user since 2011, but it wasn’t until I started an Instagram account for the Certified Comic Shop in 2017 that I discovered comic book raffles. If you’re unfamiliar with participating in a raffle to win a comic book, here’s a brief synopsis of the process:
A typical scenario would be that an Instagram user, or account specifically dedicated to raffles, has a CGC graded comic worth – let’s say – $200 that they want to sell. Instead of trying to sell it on eBay or some other website for its fair market value, they instead offer to sell 20 virtual raffle tickets to their their Instagram followers for $10 each. Once all 20 spots have been claimed and all the money collected via PayPal, the seller runs the actual raffle from a website like random.org where the winner is determined.
In the end, the seller gets the FMV of $200 and 20 people get to have a little fun anticipating if they’re going to win an awesome book to add to their comic collection for a very small investment.
On the surface, this all sounds well and good. However, having personally participated in numerous comic book raffles on Instagram (and even won one!) there are some things you should know before you start shelling out your hard earned cash on any comic book raffle that surfaces in your Instagram feed.
First off, let’s start off with the good…
WINNING A COMIC BOOK RAFFLE IS AWESOME
As I just mentioned, I did have the good fortune of winning a comic book raffle. In fact, it was the very first raffle that I participated in (beginners luck ftw)! So it goes without saying that I was super pumped when I found out I won Detective Comics #359 CGC 4.5 (first appearance of Bat Girl) for the low low price of ten bucks. The win was actually a huge boost for me because I was then able to sell that comic after enjoying it for a few weeks to earn some much needed cash to put towards building out this website.
From that point forward I started participating in more raffles, but unfortunately I haven’t had any luck winning since.
Which brings me to the bad part of comic book raffles…
RAFFLES = GAMBLING
When we hear the word “raffle” we often associate it with our local church, or community organization that’s trying to raise money for a good cause by selling raffle tickets. So all raffles are good clean fun for everyone, right?
Well kinda, but not always.
Call it what you want, but I call it gambling. With a raffle you’re paying a small sum hoping that the odds work out in your favor to win a larger sum, or prize of great value. Just like when you put a dollar in that slot machine. Or place a wager on the big sportsball game. You’re gambling. That’s exactly what you’re doing when you participate in a comic book raffle.
And like gambling, raffles can be just as addictive. After I won my first raffle and flipped my graded comic for cold hard cash, I had an inflated sense of luck and starting dropping ten bucks here and twenty bucks there on various raffles for key graded comic books – because why wouldn’t I win them all?
Before I knew it, I had violated one of the core tenants for starting my online comic shop by spending my profits from comic book sales on things that didn’t have a predictable return on investment.
After doing the math on what I spent on comic book raffles, I realized that I could have paid for a whole year’s worth of website hosting had I not spend that money. Ouch.
At that point, I reigned myself in and limited myself to participating in just one raffle a month. My point here is that while raffles can be good fun, like all things, moderation is the key.
But even if you have the disposable income to enter comic book raffles at will and without regard to your finances, keep in mind that there is an ugly side to these raffles as well…
BEWARE OF RAFFLE SCAMS
There’s no shortage of comic book themed Instagram users who raffle off comics instead of selling via a traditional ecommerce website like eBay to make a few bucks. Personally, I like to think that the majority of the users have honest intentions and always deliver the goods as promised.
Unfortunately I have seens some raffle accounts end up being not so trustworthy. In fact, the person who ran the raffle that I won, ended up falling off the face of the earth less than two months later allegedly after collecting raffle money but not delivering to the winners.
Remember, Instagram does not endorse their platform being used for raffle type games. So if you end up being victim of a scam, you can’t contact Instagram and demand your money be returned. The best you can do is report the account to the powers that be.
Also, while PayPal does have some ways to report fraudulent activity, you might not find any help there either as all rafflers ask that you send PayPal funds via the Friends and Family mechanism which is supposed to only be used for people you actually know in real life – aka your friends and family.
TIPS FOR COMIC BOOK RAFFLES ON INSTAGRAM
If you’re new to comic book raffles on Instagram, here are a few tips that I’d suggest you take into consideration before you start slinging your hard earned cash around to people you don’t know on the Interwebz.
1. Look at the History
If you stumble across a raffle that has your mouth watering, check out the history of the account holding the raffle. Scroll through their profile and look at how many raffles they’ve hosted and closed. If there’s a long history and the posts have good engagement and positive comments, you can probably rest assured knowing that you’re dealing with a trusted source.
2. Contact Raffle Winners
Most raffle accounts post the winners via a video or screenshot of the results. Don’t be shy about following the winners and sending them a DM asking if they’d recommend the raffle account in question.
3. Verification Accounts
There are a handful of Instagram accounts that position themselves as community feedback pages for raffle winners all around the world. The account that I’m familiar with and has been actively verifying user’s raffle wins for over one year as of this writing is @verified_ig_wins. This is a great resource to look at and find out which raffle accounts have been independently verified to have delivered their item to the winner.
If you’ve won a raffle, be sure to tag them and let them know so they can add you and the raffler to the ongoing list of verified deliveries.
4. Be Wary of Over Valuations
Lastly, before you enter a comic raffle, check the valuation the seller has placed on their comic to ensure it falls within an acceptable fair market value range for that specific comic.
For example, CGC 9.8 graded copies of Amazing Spider-Man #361 have been selling for around $300. If you run across a raffle for this book, and the raffler has 30 spots open for $20 each, then that’s a $600 valuation – twice the fair market value. When you see a raffle like this, you just may want to move on. That being said, it’s your $20, so do what you want with it. However when you participate in an over-valuated comic raffle, you’re potentially enabling some unsavory seller to benefit.
#ProTip: Not sure how to check what graded comics are currently selling for? I have a blog post that shows you how to discover the value of comic books in real time!
That’s not to say I’m against comic book rafflers making a percentage above FMV on their raffles. Quite the contrary as they do have to pay for packing and shipping materials after all. My advice is simply to proceed with caution on valuations that approach twice of what the market is currently bearing.
RAFFLE ACCOUNT RECOMMENDATIONS?
In my original draft of this post, I had listed a few of the Instagram rafflers whose raffles I had personally participated in, are still active today and appear to be trustworthy. However I couldn’t stop thinking about the raffle that I won. The person who hosted the raffle quickly delivered my prize. What’s not to trust, right? Well that person vanished and allegedly left some people in a bad spot. Quite frankly I’d hate to put a recommendation out there only to have it end up biting you (and me) in the ass.
So while I won’t be offering any account names here, if you do want a recommendation you can always contact me via Instagram or Twitter and I’d be happy to help you vet a raffle that you’re considering participating in.
Do you have any raffle related questions or experiences that you want to share? Post them in the comments section below! Please note though that due to the above, I reserve the right to delete any comments that mention specific raffle accounts by name. If there is an account that you trust with all your soul, feel free to message me and I’ll add it to my personal notes for further reference. Cheers!