If you’ve been on Facebook in the last week you’ve probably seen a post promoting an amazing raffle to win a shiny blue/green McLaren with proceeds going to the Rural Fire Service – epic!

But is it?

Is it legit? Or is it a scam?

That’s what I wanted to know, and that’s what many comments on the various Facebook posts have been asking.

You see, this kinda doesn’t seem to pass the “if it looks to good to be true, it must be” test. Here’s a stunning supercar, being offered in a raffle, a ticket for which will cost you just $25! And the proceeds are going to a local Sydney Rural Fire Service branch. Amazing!

Every single aspect of the competition is marketed as legitimate, the permit numbers, the terms and conditions, it’s all there.

But still, many commenters on the Facebook posts promoting the raffle are suspicious. I am too. So here’s what I’ve learned through a bit of research over the last week.

Baulkham Hills Headquarters Rural Fire Brigade

The Raffle references the “Baulkham Hills Headquarters Rural Fire Brigade” – the problem is, there is no such RFS station. The address of the raffle is for the Round Corner Rural Fire Brigade.

There is a Fire Station at Baulkham Hills, but that’s not the RFS, and it’s not a beneficiary of the raffle.

When I called the Round Corner RFS they were aware of the Raffle, in fact their own Facebook page promoted the raffle recently.

Baulkham Hills Headquarters Rural Fire Brigade is a registered ABN holder, and the permit for this Raffle in NSW is registered to that ABN – That is the formal name for the brigade, thus the confusion many people are having.

An EFTM reader adds “There are actually 2 brigades, Headquarters and Round Corner, both co-located at the Kenthurst address, which is the administration and control room for the Hills Rural Fire Service (formerly known as Baulkham Hills).

The headquarters brigade perform as a support role throughout the district whereas the Round Corner brigade looks after the local area.”

Confusing, but that means the raffle benefits a decent part of the local area.

Muragadi Heritage Indigenous Corporation

This corporation is mentioned as conducting the raffle, and they are a again a legitimate corporate entity, registered in North Western Sydney in the area of the Round Corner Rural Fire Service.

There isn’t however much about this organisation online – at all. Other than this raffle. The organisation appears to have made submissions into some government land inquiries, but that’s about it.

Jesse Johnson

Jesse is listed as the promoter of the raffle, and we can assume he is the head of the Muragadi Heritage Indigenous Corporation also.

Mr Johnson makes no attempt to hide his identity, and willingly lists his mobile number on the raffle, as well as online.

He appears to be a real estate agent by trade going by a quick Google Search.

It doesn’t take much to also assume he is the owner of the McLaren which bears JJ number plates.

The Car

It’s a stunner right, the colour draws your eye.

The 2016 MCLAREN 650S SPIDER, is a 2014 model, manufactured in 2016. It’s Aussie compliance date is 01/2016.

Back in the day, it would have set you back around $500,000. Today, it’s hard to say what it’s worth, McLarens don’t sell in the same numbers as Corollas so there’s really no easy way to price them. According to his Facebook page, Mr Johnson got the car in March 2019.

But, just a few months later it was put up for Auction. Mr Johnson listed the car for sale at Grays Online in September 2019, and despite some competitive bidding in the final days, the $227,000 hammer price wasn’t enough to meet the reserve expected for the car. So it went unsold.

In April this year, he had the white McLaren wrapped in the stunning metallic green you see it listed in today.

The Delay

Plenty of comments on the Facebook posts about this car indicate that the raffle kicked off some time ago, and the original date for the draw was August 28. However, that is now listed as October 28, a two month extension.

The NSW Department of Customer Service confirmed to EFTM that the extension was applied for and granted.

So while it’s disappointing to see a raffle drawn out (pardon the pun), it was allowed under the permit due to a lack of ticket sales.

Another extension may not be so easy, given the attention this raffle is getting – but it can’t be ruled out.

The Money

Here’s where it all starts to get really interesting. But let’s remember, this is the same for all raffles and fundraisers – you never really know who’s taking what or charging what do you?

The Permit stipulates a maximum of 82,000 tickets will be sold.

At $25 a pop, that’s just over $2,000,000 in ticket sales.

The platform being used to sell the tickets is going to get a fair chunk of that, through transaction and “platform fees” – let’s call it $372,000 (Credit Card and processing fees!).

On the Raffle website, the value of the car is listed at $410,000 – so we can assume Mr Johnson will take that as his cut as payment for the car.

I reached out to Mr Johnson on Facebook who told me that there would be no minimum number of tickets, and that the car and marketing was covered from the proceeds of the raffle, and that he hoped that would leave just over $600,000 for the local RFS.

When questioned on the costs, Mr Johnson outlined there would be “around 60-70k per week on marketing” – that’s a hell of a lot of Facebook ads. Kinda explains why I see the ad every time I refresh my browser.

Mr Johnson’s “Supercars for a Cause” Facebook page is running almost 20 different variations of the ad

Across Facebook

The true cost of which we’ll never know.

Additionally, Raffletix, the raffle platform is also running a large number of Facebook ads

Again, large numbers of different creatives

Mr Johnson told me “We aim for $1 on marketing spent to earn $3 in ticket sales”. Over 13 weeks, we calculate they could be spending over $700,000 on advertising and marketing for this raffle!

By our calculations, that would leave the Rural Fire Service at Round Corner with just short of $500,000. An AMAZING amount of money for a local Rural Fire Station.

Is it Legit?

EFTM reached out to the NSW Department of Customer Service – responsible for Lotteries, Raffles, and Competitions.

The permit for this Raffle is legitimate. It’s as simple as that.

Should I buy a Ticket?

Ahh, well that’s your decision.

From what I can see, all going well with ticket sales, that small local Rural Fire Brigade looks set to receive a big stack of cash from this raffle. And that’s a good thing.

But, a website running the raffle logistics also pockets hundreds of thousands, as does Facebook for marketing.

And we’ll never really know what amount Mr Johnson or his entities receive as they are not public companies or listed charities. Needless to say, he’s going to meet the reserve on this one.

Should these raffles be allowed?

This is a much bigger moral question.

I can remember all through my childhood my mum getting the “Boystown” Art Union Raffles. A ticket could win you a dream home! Buy a stack of tickets you can fill the garage with cars!!

I loved the idea, and still do – it’s that lotto winning dream thing right?

But someone’s making a bit of coin out of this. Boystown is now YourTown, and their organisation funds support for kids, domestic volience support and so much more. All that is listed on the website.

We all know what the RFS do, that’s why millions were raised to support them during the bushfires, on top of the huge amount of Government funding.

But should a bloke be allowed to use an RFS branch fundraiser as a way of guaranteeing the reserve on selling his car? I’m not sure. For me, I’ll leave this one to some other lucky winner thanks.

But for $25 – the chance to own a McLaren is one hell of an opportunity.

If you do want – tickets are available here.