The Most Infamous Lottery Scandals Of All Time



Powerball talk has reached febrile levels.With the jackpot north of half a billion dollars, the entire country is playing the numbers  (including Business Insider).

But here’s the real question we know is everyone’s mind: can the contest be gamed?

Not without extreme difficulty.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Office of Inspector General released a report on a group of individuals who had successfully — and legally — outmanuevered the state’s lottery to win millions of dollars.

That appears to be the only successful example in modern lotto history, according to Chuck Strutt, the director of the Multi-State Lottery Association which oversees cross-state lottery games. 

But Strutt told us that there have been several notorious instances of illicit lottery rigging over the years, which we reproduce for you here.

Italy's blindfolded tots scandal, 1999

A nationwide scandal erupted after lottery officials were found to have rigged drawings by bribing the blindfolded children who picked numbers.

'Blindfolds were loosened and certain balls covered with a shiny varnish that could be seen beneath the blindfolds. Balls were also heated or frozen so that the children could pick them out by touch. In one case, investigators say, a ball was so hot that a child's hand was burned,' CNN reported.

The Pennsylvania 6-6-6 scandal, 1980

Nick Perry, the host of the state's televised lottery drawing, and Edward Plevel, a lottery supervisor, were indicted on fraud charges after it was discovered they were weighing lottery balls so that only 4s and 6s would turn up. One of the major jackpot numbers turned out to be '6-6-6.'

Source: New York Times

The Virginia lotto's Australian invasion, 1992

A group of Australian investors bought tickets for 5 million of a possible 7 million combinations, at $1 each, in a lottery with a $27 million jackpot. Virginia officials ultimately ended up paying out the winning ticket.

Source: WDBJ7

A Chinese lotto retailer gets life imprisonment for rigging his game, 2005

Zhao Liqun discovered a flaw in that allowed a person buy tickets with the right numbers within five minutes of their being announced. Zhao, 36, who ran three lottery stalls in a northern town near Shenyang, 'bought' the announced numbers many times over. He won $3.76 million, but was eventually caught and jailed for life.


Widespread fraud found in Ontario, Canada's lottery, 1999

In 1999, insiders began noticing an abnormally high number of major lottery wins -- 247 claims ranging between $50,000 and $12.5 million. A subsequent investigation found widespread fraud among lottery 'insiders' -- lottery retailers, their employees and their families -- who were lying and stealing millions of dollars in dishonestly claimed winnings. Four officials were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars and forced out of their jobs.


The Dominican Republic's lotto is found to have been rigged for a decade, 1998

Investigators found insiders had arranged in advance what winning numbers would be drawn and bet on those numbers. The scheme began in the late 1980's and continued uninterrupted with the protection and participation of lottery administrators until a botched drawing on television a year ago raised suspicions about the integrity of the process. The ring made at least $7 million from illicit winnings, most of which financed election campaigns.

Source: New York Times

Counterfeit ticket scandal rocks the Caribbean, 1914

The President of Cuba was forced to intervene after widespread fraud was found among the island nation's lottery officials, who had been selling counterfeit tickets in Puerto Rico, South Florida and the West Indies.

Source: New York Times

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