Headlines of Yore

The 1980s Philly sweepstakes charlatan who swindled folks out of $2 million in prizes

After a federal indictment, Chuck Seidman went on to gain Donald Trump as a client.

Trump Plaza Casino Hotel in Atlantic City was one of the clients of the sweepstakes biz

Trump Plaza Casino Hotel in Atlantic City was one of the clients of the sweepstakes biz

Wikimedia Commons

The thrill of winning something for nothing has powerful pull. It drives state lotteries, powers casinos, and was responsible for fueling a huge sweepstakes boom in 1980s America.

One Philadelphia man, Charles “Chuck” Seidman, took advantage of that trend by setting up a company to run those contests. But instead of handing out prizes, turns out he mostly kept them for himself. The house won, every time.

The scam eventually came crashing down, but Seidman escaped relatively unscathed. He scooped up Atlantic City hotel owner Donald Trump as a client, while his former partner opened a South Jersey strip club. Scroll through the thread below for details on how it all went down.

Want some more? Explore other Headlines of Yore stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?