Florida lottery officials are moving swiftly to crack down on lottery fraud, after a newspaper investigation published Sunday showed a small number of lottery players claiming prizes over and over again, defying seemingly impossible odds. The biggest “winner,” according to the report in The Palm Beach Post, hit the lottery numbers 252 times in six years, collecting more than $700,000 in prize money.
That’s one lucky guy. But the Post found a lot of lucky Florida lottery players. In fact, the investigation revealed that 200 people won a prize of at least $600 at least 30 times each. How lucky is that?
Repeat Winners Would Lose $2 Million Before Winning As Much As They Did
A bit too lucky, as it turns out. The paper asked a math professor who researches the lottery, Skip Garibaldi, to figure out the chances of those Florida lottery players winning as often as they did. Garibaldi found that the odds were so astronomical against the repeat winners that even to bring the odds down to a trillion to one, the Florida players would need to spend more than they ended up winning.
Actually, winning as many times as they did would have caused the players to lose about $2 million each, using unskewed odds.
Most Frequent Florida Lottery “Winner” Denies Winning Anything
The winningest of the repeat “winners,” however, told the Post that he has never won the Florida lottery and someone must be using his name to commit lottery fraud. A 68-year-old retired tire repairman, Lewis Tillman was residing in a 1,200 square foot rented house when the Post caught up to him.
Turns out that Tillman stopped in every day at a convenience store called Akel Maret in Pompano Beach to grab a cup of coffee.
The Akel Market was one of three raided Wednesday by Broward County Sheriff’s deputies, who seized lottery equipment from that store and two others.
Tillman won a Florida lottery drawing 53 times at Akel Market alone, taking home $169,998 of the $719,051 he is on record as winning over the past six years. But he says he didn’t take anything home and that someone at the store must have been using him as a front without his knowledge.
Store Clerks Most Frequent Lottery Fraud Perpetrators
That is certainly possible. Store clerks are among the most frequent perpetrators of lottery fraud, said Florida lottery Deputy Sceretary David Bishop.
“Clerks or retailers validate tickets and say they’re not a winner and then cash the tickets for themselves,” Bishop said, explaining one common way lottery fraud can work.
In response to the Post investigation, Florida lottery officials revealed that they frequently conduct “sting” operations against suspected lottery cheaters. One of those sting operations resulted in the Wednesday raids on three Broward County convenience stores now accused of cheating the Florida lottery.