€35 Million French Lottery Fraud
Wednesday 01 August 2007
In a series of events that might only be read about in a crime novel, on the 11th May a man entered a tobacconist's shop in the 15th arrondissement of Paris to validate his €35 million jackpot win, except that he was not the real winner of the money. The man is suspected of acting in collaboration with the shop owner to embezzle the proceeds.
The real winner of the jackpot was a regular punter who entrusted the shop owner each week to verify whether he had won. On the week in question, the tobacconist is alleged to have switched the winning tickets for losing ones.
Mindful of the risk he would face if he tried to claim the prize money himself, the shop owner solicited a local friend to claim the money, in return for a share of the ill-gotten gains.
As is the custom with large lottery wins, a ceremony took place in which the prize money was handed over to the 'winner', who decided that he wished to preserve his anonymity, so no photos of him were published.
Nevertheless, as is also the practice, the lottery organisers, Française des jeux (FDJ), undertook routine enquiries on the payout, and on this occasion established that these same lottery numbers had been played for several years at the shop, and had continued to be played, even after the jackpot payout.
Accordingly, FDJ made further enquiries and when the fraudulent winner was interviewed by them, he remarked that he did not play the same numbers each week, but chose them at random.
They also then discovered that, within three days of the transfer of the money into the account of the winner, there was a transfer of €30 million into the bank account of the tabac owners.
By this time, police had been alerted and, when the real winner of the lottery went into the tabac the following Monday to play in his usual manner, he was intercepted by the police.
When he was told of his good fortune, the player is said to have suffered a mild heart attack, but was able to successfully recover. Whilst he has yet to receive his cheque for €35 million, it is anticipated he will do so when legal proceedings have been completed.