A convicted rapist “more likely than not” used a fake ticket to claim a £2.5 million National Lottery jackpot, the gambling regulator has ruled.
Edward Putman, 51, is alleged to have plotted with a corrupt security official at Camelot, the lottery operator, to secure the win days before the deadline to claim the jackpot. It is the most serious allegation of cheating in its 22-year history.
He was arrested in October last year on suspicion of fraud by false representation, although the investigation was dropped because of a lack of sufficient evidence for a prosecution.
However, the Gambling Commission ruled yesterday that it was “more likely than not” that a fraudulent win had been paid and it fined Camelot £3 million for failing to provide controls to prevent fraud.
Mr Putman’s win in 2009 was revealed three years later when he was jailed for nine months after admitting that he fraudulently claimed £13,000 in housing benefit and income support.
Judge Andrew Bright said that Mr Putman was “motivated by sheer greed” when he asked for his benefits to be reinstated following the lottery win. He was caught when he tried to use cash to buy his £83,000 council flat in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
It later emerged that he had been jailed in 1993 for raping a 17-year-old girl twice. His former partner also accused him of assault.
The allegedly fraudulent win was not discovered until last year following the death of the Camelot security official in a suspected suicide. The investigation centered on the draw of March 11, 2009, with a jackpot of £2,525,485, which was won by a ticket sold in Worcestershire. The prize was claimed only days before the deadline of September 7, 2009.
A Camelot official responsible for checking the validity of Mr Putman’s ticket at the company’s headquarters in Watford, Hertfordshire, is suspected of bypassing security checks. It is believed that the ticket was damaged.
The jackpot was paid into Mr Putman’s account with St James’s Bank, which is recommended by Camelot for lottery winners, on September 10, 2009. The ticket concerned can no longer be found, which was a factor in the earlier police inquiry collapsing.
Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, called for an urgent statement by the government on what he described as “the great Lotto robbery”.
He said: “Camelot has very serious questions to answer about this fraud, which should never have been allowed to take place.”
After his win Mr Putman bought a detached house in Kings Langley for £466,000 as well as surrounding properties and land. He did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Andy Duncan, the Camelot chief executive, said: “We accept that, at the time, there were some weaknesses in some of the specific controls relevant to this incident and we’re very sorry for that.” He refused to comment when asked whether the alleged fraud was an “inside job”, saying that the police investigation could be reopened.
The company said in a statement that it believed that the fraud was unique. It is considering civil action to secure the return of the disputed winnings.
The Gambling Commission ruled that Camelot breached the terms of its operating licence over control of its databases, the way it investigated prize claims and its processes “around the decision to pay a prize”. The fine will be taken from its profits and includes £2.5 million to be given to good causes.