Seriously, I'd probably go for the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick before being duped like this. In a refreshing change of pace, this story about criminals in Cook County does not have any politicians involved as far as we know.
You could already be a winner -- if you weren't going to jail.
That's the bad news 61 fugitives got after being lured to a suburban hotel with news they had won a $1,000 gift card and the chance to take home a big-screen TV.
Earlier this month, people wanted on outstanding warrants got a letter in the mail from "Shoptastic Solutions" -- Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's fictitious marketing outfit -- promising prizes and no gimmicks.
All they had to do was check the enclosed scratch-off ticket to see if they had won -- which, of course, they all did. The "winners" were told to call in their shopper number -- which actually was their warrant number -- to schedule an appointment to complete a shopping survey and pick up their prize.
At a hotel near Midway Airport, an undercover officer in a funny hat shot off streamers as the winners walked in. While they filled out the survey, sheriff's police -- hiding in closets -- popped out with zip-tie handcuffs and the big surprise.
Dart said he got a kick out of the bust.
"We tried to tap in to the Christmas spirit and throw a big dose of the Grinch on top of it," Dart said. "The Grinch definitely struck here, and the Grinch had a lot of fun. The Grinch will return, probably in a different way."
The sheriff said most of the bad guys and girls got a good laugh at the clever bust, too.
"One guy in particular came up to me and told me this was the best one ever. I got the impression this wasn't his first time," Dart said.