The 2000 movie “Lucky Numbers,” which stars John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow, depicted a con-artist duo trying to hack the lottery system.
That may have sounded farfetched 15 years ago, but now a man was allegedly able to do just that.
Eddie Raymond Tipton, who worked as the Director of Information Security for the Multi-State Lottery Association, was arrested last January by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations over a mysterious unclaimed Lotto ticket.
The allegations go thus: The authorities have been investigating Tipton over a reported attempt to enlist others to claim a winning ticket in 2010. Due to his position at the Lottery Association, Tipton is forbidden from buying lottery tickets.
This winning ticket’s numbers may have been predetermined, the investigators believe. The prosecutors wrote, according to The Des Moines Register: “There is sufficient evidence for a jury to reasonably conclude from the evidence that Defendant tampered with lottery equipment.”
To do this, Lipton had to gain access into the Lottery’s Draw Room where a non-internet connected computer uses random number-generating software to pick the day’s numbers, as the Des Moines Register writes. Only two people at a time are ever allowed in this room, and there’s always a camera recording what happens.
Authorities believe Lipton bypassed these regulations and infiltrated the room by changing how the security cameras in the Lottery’s draw room works. Instead of recording every second, on Nov. 20, 2010 the cameras only recorded one second per minute. This would have given Lipton enough time to go into the room and insert a thumb-drive into the random number generating computer.
According to Tipton’s coworkers, the man had been “‘obsessed’ with root kits.” Root kits are computer programs built to perform very specific functions and subsequently self-destruct.
The prosecution reportedly has a witness who will testify that Tipton told him before December 2010 that he had already built a self-destructing root kit.
Tipton’s lawyers write in their motion that there is “actually no evidence that Defendant tampered with the RNG computers or program.”
The Iowa officials have been on Tipton’s case for months, looking into just how and why the 2010 unclaimed Lotto ticket came to be.
Now the man has been charged with two counts of fraud. He could serve as many as five years in prison and be fined as much as $US7,500 for that ticket he never cashed.