When it comes to getting rich by playing the lotto, some people spend years relying on their good luck while others believe they’ll strike gold by cheating the system. Eddie Tipton is the newest addition to the long line of schemers accused of trying to get rich the easy way – the former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association allegedly fixed jackpots in four states, causing one of the biggest scandals in the recent lottery history.
The story of Tipton’s fraud resembles a movie plot – he allegedly installed undetectable software to give him advance knowledge of the winning numbers and enlisted accomplices to play those numbers and collect the money afterwards. Tipton was sentenced to 10 years, but is free pending appeal, after being convicted at trial of trying to collect a $16.500.000 million jackpot in Iowa. Authorities first suspected him when he allegedly attempted to claim the prize by a trust, but the request was turned down. After a surveillance video showing the person buying the winning ticket was released, Tipton’s co-workers realized the mysterious man looked and sounded a lot like him.
The prosecutors suspect Tipton’s high-tech scheme extended far beyond Iowa – after he’s been accused of tampering with lottery drawings in four states over six years, the authorities have decided to launch a nationwide investigation. State lotteries in Colorado, Wisconsin and Oklahoma have already confirmed paying $8.000.000 to Tipton and his alleged collaborators and the inquiry is now being expanded to another 37 states that use the same kind of random-number generators.
“It would be pretty naive to believe they are the only four jackpots involved. If you find one cockroach, you have to assume there are 100 more you haven’t found,” explained now-retired Iowa deputy attorney general Thomas H. Miller, who oversaw the investigation for over two years.
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