Image credit: Cineberg
There’s no denying that winning the jackpot on a lottery ticket is something just about all of us dream of.
Indeed, the prospect of being able to afford extravagant waterfront mansions, magnificent trips around the world, private jets and yachts, is all too alluring – and it’s no wonder many of us regularly try our luck on mega lottery games.
But with the chances of winning so painfully low, now, it seems there’s another way that people are trying to get their hands on the prize.
And worryingly, this involves blatant, ruthless theft.
This was the very scenario that unfolded with a tobacco shop owner from Naples in September 2021, who was stopped from boarding a flight out to the Canary Islands by Italian border police after he allegedly stole a winning scratch card ticket from a customer.
And that ticket was worth 500,000 euros – that’s approximately $769,000 AUD.
According to reports from local Italian news outlet La Presse, the suspect – whose identity has not yet been released to the public – had arrived at the airport with a plane ticket bound for Fuerteventura, when he was stopped by police.
At the time, it is understood he did not have on his person the winning scratch card ticket.
However, it was his suspicious plane ticket that did the talking.
How the Man Managed to Land the Bonanza Ticket in His Hands
It is understood that on Friday 3rd September 2021, the winner of the prized jackpot ticket – an elderly lady – came into the man’s shop in order to get her win verified.
Previously, the woman had purchased two “scratch and win” cards, following which she passed on the winning card over to an employee at the shop to get confirmed.
The ticket held the top prize amount being offered.
When the employee handed the card to their boss – the aforementioned owner of the shop – to take a final look, the man allegedly snatched the jackpot ticket and bolted.
Then, almost as if a scene out of a movie, he jumped on his scooter and made a speedy escape, zipping through the southern Italian city.
While the man was detained by police at the airport, according to La Presse news agency, he was released on bail.
And the story does not end there.
Investigators on the case were not able to find the winning scratch card and are indeed still looking for it.
As a consequence, authorities at the Italian tax office, which runs the “scratch and win” operation, have since frozen the entire block of card numbers that had been distributed to the tobacco shop.
This has been undertaken as a measure to prevent anyone unlawfully cashing in on the jackpot prize.
As such, with no ticket in sight, it remains to be seen whether the man is guilty, and, unfortunately, whether the elderly lady who bought the winning scratch card will finally receive her takings.
The offence of obtaining benefit by deception is commonly understood as fraud and related to the offender engaging in deceptive and dishonest conduct where property or a financial advantage has been obtained for themselves or another person.
In NSW, this offence is reflected in section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 and makes clear that an incident of fraud is committed where you act by any deception with dishonesty to obtain property belonging to another, or obtain financial advantage or cause another person financial disadvantage.
If found guilty, the maximum penalty a person can face is 10 years in jail.
Additionally, it should be noted that according to this section, a person’s obtaining of property belonging to another is deemed dishonest even if the person is willing to pay for the property.
“Deception” is understood as a deception, by words or other conduct, as to fact or as to law, including a deception as to the intentions of the person using the deception or any other person, and conduct by a person that causes a computer, a machine or any electronic device to make a response that the person is not authorised to cause it to make.
“Dishonesty” is understood as being dishonest according to the standards of ordinary people and known by the defendant to be dishonest according to the standards of ordinary people.
For the prosecution to prove a guilty fraud offence, they must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused acted dishonestly, with deception, and that a benefit or financial advantage was obtained.
This is sometimes difficult to prove unless there is an admission of guilt by the accused. The guilt however can be inferred from the circumstances.
It should be noted that an alternative for this offence is larceny, meaning if the accused is unable to be proven for fraud, they could be found guilty of larceny instead.