Lottery fraud

Lottery fraud is any act committed to defraud a lottery game. A perpetrator attempts to win a jackpot prize through fraudulent means. The aim is to defraud the organisation running the lottery of money, or in the case of a stolen lottery ticket, to defraud an individual of their legitimately won prize.

Forged lottery ticket from 1936, displayed in the Norwegian National Museum of Justice, Trondheim

Several common techniques are used, including using a forged or altered lottery ticket to claim a prize, or presenting a genuine, stolen ticket to claim a prize through misrepresentation. There are also cases of insider fraud, where employees or agents involved in the lottery have exploited their position to fraudulently claim prizes for themselves, such as tampering with the lottery draw process itself. In many countries, players can present their lottery tickets in person at retail outlets to check for winning numbers at the point of sale; cases have emerged of retailers failing to inform customers of their winnings and then claiming the prizes for themselves.

An alternative form of lottery fraud, commonly known as a lottery scam, takes the form of informing an individual by email, letter or phone call that they have won a lottery prize. The victim is instructed to pay a fee to enable the non-existent winnings to be processed. This type is a form of advance-fee fraud and a common email scam.[1][2]

Noted casesEdit

 
Monroe County police officers examining fake Cuban lottery tickets (c.1960)

A number of high-profile cases have emerged of lottery fraud around the world. A counterfeit ticket scandal was recorded in 1913-1914 which involved fake tickets from the Cuban lottery being sold in Puerto Rico, South Florida and the West Indies.[3] The fraud was perpetrated by Cuban officials inside the lottery.[4] During the 1960s, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar's early petty criminal activities included selling fake lottery tickets.[5] In 1999, a case of draw tampering emerged in Italy when the balls of the national Lotto were treated with varnish or heated. The blindfolded children who drew the winning numbers were then secretly instructed to pick preselected numbers by feeling for treated balls.[6][4]

CanadaEdit

Between 1999 and 2006, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) was subject to widespread retailer fraud. Authorities noticed that an improbably large number of lottery retailers in Ontario were winning major prizes, from $50,000 to $12.5 million. Evidence emerged that certain retailers were failing to inform customers of their winnings when they presented their lottery tickets in-store, and then fraudulently claiming prizes for themselves.[7] An investigation found evidence of widespread insider fraud among lottery retailers, including collusion with employees and family members. Four OLG officials were fined and dismissed.[4]

United StatesEdit

In 1980, Nick Perry, TV host of the Pennsylvania Lottery, was at the centre of the 1980 Pennsylvania Lottery scandal, a fraud that involved creating replicas of the official ping-pong balls used in the Pennsylvania Lottery machines. The specially weighted balls ensured that limited combinations of numbers were likely to be drawn. Perry's accomplices then purchased a large number of tickets around the state corresponding to the predicted draw results, enabling them to claim approximately $1.8 million in prize money. Suspicions were aroused when authorities noticed that a large number of tickets were purchased for the eight possible combinations. On 20 May 1981, Perry was convicted of criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief, theft by deception, rigging a publicly exhibited contest and perjury, and was sentenced to seven years in prison. His accomplices were also tried and convicted.[8][9]

In 2017, in the Hot Lotto fraud scandal, Eddie Raymond Tipton, former information security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), rigged a random number generator to defraud the Hot Lotto lottery game of $14.3 million. On 20 July 2015, Tipton was found guilty on two counts of fraud and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.[10][11] Subsequent criminal investigations revealed that Tipton had also rigged other state lotteries: the Colorado Lottery in 2005 ($568,990 jackpot prize paid to Tipton's brother Tommy); the Wisconsin Lottery in 2007 ($783,257 prize paid to Tipton's accomplice); and the Oklahoma Lottery in 2011 ($1.2 million prize). Tipton was tried again in 2017 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.[12][13]

United KingdomEdit

In 2009, a couple found a National Lottery ticket on the floor of a supermarket in Swindon. The ticket bore winning numbers and the couple claimed £30,000 in prize money. The woman who bought the ticket had retained her receipt as proof of purchase. The couple who found the ticket were charged with theft and making a false representation, and received an 11-month suspended sentence.[14][15]

Several cases of insider fraud by retailers have been uncovered by investigators. In 2011, a shopkeeper in Watton, Norfolk retained a winning lottery ticket and later claimed the £156,000 prize herself. She and her husband were later jailed for 14 months.[16][14] In 2012, an Oldham newsagent falsely told a woman that her lottery ticket had won nothing and then claimed the £1 million prize for himself. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.[14] In Gravesend, another newsagent falsely claimed an £80,000 with a lottery ticket purchased by a customer, and was given a non-custodial sentence.[14][17]

In 2009 an employee of Camelot — the company that operates the UK National Lottery — conspired with a member of the public to claim a jackpot prize using a bogus ticket. The employee, who worked in Camelot's fraud department, found a way to forge lottery tickets bearing winning numbers. Edward Putman, of Kings Langley in Hertfordshire, was initially prosecuted in July 2012 for benefit fraud after failing to declare lottery winnings of nearly £5 million whilst in receipt of welfare benefits.[18] Although police did not have enough evidence to bring a prosecution at the time, the case was investigated by the Gambling Commission in December 2016, who found that Camelot had breached the terms of its operating licence in failing to investigate the veracity of the prize claim before paying out and fined Camelot £3 million.[19] The case was subsequently investigated further and in October 2019 Putman was jailed for 9 years for defrauding the National Lottery of £2.5 million.[20][21]

ChinaEdit

In the 2004 Chinese lottery scandal, a contractor at the Shaanxi Provincial Sports Lottery Centre in Shaanxi Province attempted to claim a prize of a new BMW car using a fake lottery ticket.[22]

In 2005, a lotto retailer in Anshan, Liaoning Province exploited a flaw in a lottery draw process that allowed him to continue to sell lottery tickets up to five minutes after the winning numbers had been announced. He bought a ticket with winning numbers and claimed a prize of $3.76 million, but eventually he was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment.[4][23]

In popular cultureEdit

Lottery fraud has featured in films and television productions. The 2000 film Lucky Numbers depicts a TV weatherman, Russ Richards (John Travolta), who rigs the Pennsylvania Lottery in a story inspired by the 1980 Pennsylvania Lottery scandal.[24] In Class Warfare (2001), two high school students plot to murder a fellow classmate to gain possession of his winning lottery ticket.[25] In Ridley Scott's 2003 film Matchstick Men, con artist Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage) teaches his daughter how to con a woman into believing she has won the lottery, and she shares her expected winnings with them.[26] A 2011 episode of the BBC TV documentary series The Real Hustle, a group of scammers pretend to be a lottery syndicate who have won a lottery. They persuade a member of the public to cash the ticket for them with a promise of a share in the prize pool.[27]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "How to identify and avoid hoax or fraudulent e-mail scams," Microsoft Archived January 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Schiller, Jon (2010). Financial Fraud. CreateSpace. p. 89. ISBN 9781450533430. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Counterfeit Lottery Tickets". The Cuba Review. New York: Munson Steamship Line. XII (1): 38. December 1913. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Wile, Rob (3 August 2012). "The Most Famous Lottery Scandals Of All Time". Business Insider. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  5. ^ J.D. Rockefeller (17 March 2016). Cocaine King Pablo Escobar: Crimes and Drug Dealings. J.D. Rockefeller. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-5306-1889-7.
  6. ^ "Italian investigators widen probe into rigged lottery drawings". CNN. 6 January 1999. Archived from the original on 17 October 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  7. ^ Powell, Betsy; Brazao, Dale (20 December 2007). "Lotto winners discover $5.7M scam | The Star". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  8. ^ Thornburgh, Dick (2003). Where the Evidence Leads: An Autobiography, Revised and Updated. University of Pittsburgh Pre. ISBN 9780822973881. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  9. ^ Cuddy Jr., Jim (June 11, 1981). "Lottery TV Moved to Harrisburg". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  10. ^ Rogers, Grant (June 29, 2017). "Tipton brothers plead guilty in Iowa lottery rigging scandal". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  11. ^ Clayworth, Jason (August 22, 2017). "Eddie Tipton sentenced in Iowa Lottery rigging case". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  12. ^ Rodgers, Grant (October 9, 2015). "Hot Lotto scammer accused of rigging other lotteries". Des Moines Register. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  13. ^ Forgrave, Reid (3 May 2018). "The Man Who Cracked the Lottery". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d Haworth, Jessica (29 January 2016). "What happens when you fake a lottery win? These are the people who tried". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  15. ^ Roberts, Tom (24 July 2009). "Couple who found winning lottery ticket ordered to pay back prize money". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 November 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Newsagent stole winning £156,000 lottery ticket from pensioner". 20 March 2012. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Lottery Cheat Imran Pervais Escapes Jail Term". Sky News. Archived from the original on 1 November 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  18. ^ Cockerell, Jennifer (3 July 2012). "Lottery winner rapist Edward Putman admits fraud". The Independent. Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  19. ^ Marston, Rebecca (16 December 2016). "National Lottery firm Camelot fined for £2.5m suspect ticket win". BBC News. Archived from the original on 17 December 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Conman jailed for £2.5m fake lottery ticket fraud". BBC News. 4 October 2019. Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Man convicted over £2.5m National Lottery fake ticket fraud". The Guardian. 4 October 2019. Archived from the original on 5 October 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Lottery winner sold BMW, goes bush". Shenzhen Daily. 30 June 2004.
  23. ^ "Man gets life for lottery ticket scam". Reuters. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  24. ^ Ebert, Roger (2002-12-02). Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2003. Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 373. ISBN 9780740726910. Lucky Numbers travolta film lottery.
  25. ^ Fries, Laura (26 June 2001). "Class Warfare". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  26. ^ Raw, Laurence (2009-09-28). The Ridley Scott Encyclopedia. Scarecrow Press. p. 218. ISBN 9780810869523.
  27. ^ "The Real Hustle Episode 6: New Recruits". The Real Hustle. Series Series 10. 11 December 2011. BBC. BBC Three. Retrieved 1 November 2019.