There are countless stories about lottery winners who hit the jackpot and then went on to live happy and fulfilled lives. But hey, who wants to read about those guys? Instead we are going to take a look at some of the most outrageous lottery liars of all time. All of those dollar signs can turn a person’s head and make them become capable of actions that they would never have thought possible. Read on and you’ll see why these deceitful folks have earned a place in our rogues’ gallery of lottery cheats.
Gordon Gecko famously claimed that “Greed is good”, although you would be hard-pressed to find much agreement with that sentiment among the colleagues of one Americo Lopes. You see six construction worker buddies had a habit of pooling their money to buy lottery tickets each week, and Mr Lopes was in charge of buying the ticket. In November of 2009 he bought the MegaMillions ticket as usual, but this one turned out to be a winner. Mr Lopes took the ticket to the lottery officials but informed them that the winnings were to be paid to him alone. Shortly afterwards he quit the construction job – claiming to have injured his foot – and left to enjoy his after-tax windfall of almost $17.5 million. He might have gotten away with the scam, had he not mentioned to one of the group that he won the lottery shortly after quitting. Upon checking the dates the syndicate members discovered the truth, and in a court ruled that Mr Lopes must share the spoils.
Husband and wife team Alfred and Anne Jeevarajah abused their position in order to try and rob a senior citizen of his lottery winnings. When Gwyn Badham-Davies took his winning ticket to his local store to get it checked, storekeeper Anne told him that the ticket was worthless. She later passed the ticket to her husband, who rang the UK lottery board to claim the £156,000 ($220,000 USD) prize. The ruse didn’t work, and the couple ended up being sentenced to 11 months in jail for their deception. Mr Badham-Davies was awarded his winnings and showed admirable generosity towards the fraudsters, saying: “I don’t feel any malice or animosity. I see it as a betrayal. I feel hurt about it, but they made a mistake. I forgive them.”
Denise Rossi was thrilled to discover that she had won $1.3 million from the California lottery, but less thrilled at the prospect of sharing the spoils with husband Thomas. She hit the jackpot on December 28th, 1996 and filed for divorce just 11 days later – without ever mentioning her lottery win. It wasn’t until two years later that Thomas discovered her deception. A letter arrived in the mail, addressed to his wife, from a company that helps lottery winners to receive a lump-sum payment. When the case went to court, the judge awarded that the whole sum be paid to the jilted husband
This next one is a pretty sorry tale, as it involved a lottery jackpot win which ended up dividing a family. When 75-year-old Etta May Urquhart discovered that she had the winning $51 million MegaMillions ticket she became overcome with emotion. After presenting the ticket to lottery officials, they asked that it by signed. Mrs Urquhart was too nervous to complete all the paperwork, so her son Ronnie did it for her. However, he signed the ticket in his own name rather than his mother’s, and over the next year set about buying 4 houses and 10 cars, among other purchases. Mrs Urquhart brought her son to court to recoup the money, and eventually a cash settlement was agreed, although whether mother and son ever reconciled is not known.
One of the most famous lottery liars – certainly in his native Britain – was painter and decorator Howard Walmsley. His business having run into financial problems, Mr Walmsley came up with a solution that not many of us would’ve conjured up. Instead of fronting up to his creditors, he decided to pretend that he had won a lottery jackpot of £8 million ($11.4 million). Claiming later on that he had done it to save his marriage, Mr Walmsley embarked on an outrageous shopping spree that enjoyed a remarkable degree of ‘success’ over the course of a two-year period. He managed to convince not only his wife, but also bank managers, car salesmen, solicitors, an architect and two female friends (both of whom loaned him money) that he had hit the jackpot. However, his luck was always going to run out at some stage and he ended up being sentenced to a three-year jail sentence for fraud.
There is a good way to win a lottery jackpot, and a bad way. Hopefully these cautionary tales will keep you on the straight and narrow if your lucky numbers come up!