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Crime Software The Almighty Buck

Ex-Lottery Worker Convicted of Programming System To Win $14M 217

An anonymous reader sends news that Eddie Tipton, a man who worked for the Multi-State Lottery Association, has been convicted of rigging a computerized lottery game so he could win the $14 million jackpot. Tipton wrote a computer program that would ensure certain numbers were picked in the lottery game, and ran it on lottery system machines. He then deleted it and bought a ticket from a convenience store. Lottery employees are forbidden to play, so he tried to get acquaintances to cash the winning ticket for him. Unfortunately for him, Iowa law requires the original ticket buyer's name to be divulged before any money can be paid out.
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Ex-Lottery Worker Convicted of Programming System To Win $14M

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  • Correction: (Score:4, Funny)

    by RoverDaddy ( 869116 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @09:51AM (#50159905) Homepage
    " Unfortunately for him, Iowa law requires the original ticket buyer's name to be divulged before any money can be paid out. "
    Unfortunately for him, he had stupid friends - FTFY.
    • Re:Correction: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:04AM (#50160041)

      No, he was an idiot for buying the ticket himself.

      • Re:Correction: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:19AM (#50160153)

        No, anyone is an idiot who puts money on electronic devices that are so easy to game. If not for the fact that he screwed up and bought the ticket under his name, he would be richer and everyone who played would be screwed out of their money.

        Makes you wonder how many of these succeed without being found out.

        • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:49AM (#50160461)

          So the stock market then?

          • Re:Correction: (Score:4, Informative)

            by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @11:44AM (#50160881)

            Or any banking or other financial system.

            Your money isn't stored in a big container with your name on it. It's bits in the banks systems. Relatively speaking, it's trivial to move the bits from your account to someone else's account. Practically speaking, there are safeguards in place to ensure this doesn't happen in an unauthorized manner and to track all transactions that happen, but at the core this is a computer system and someone could theoretically hack the system to increase their funds and decrease yours.

            Keeping your money off of all electronic systems would mean stuffing piles of bills into your mattress.

            • give it to me in gold then.

            • Re:Correction: (Score:4, Insightful)

              by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @01:58PM (#50162113)

              And even if you went the "piles of bills into your mattress" route, that's just pieces of paper.

              And even if you went the "gold bars" route, that's just atoms of some incidentally rare material on earth. We could find a bunch of gold on some other planet, or simply just not deem it valuable anymore at some point in the future.

              It's all just a big game of monopoly.

        • Who really wins these lotteries? The advertising firms designing every new scratch off ticket. Every week there's another new "game" that has a million advertising spots on radio, TV, billboards, etc. If it were about income for the state (tax on the math challenged), then they'd just need a few scratch offs that never change style and a big lottery for the dreamers. There would be little to no need to advertise (or to have a hushed, sped-up voice admonish listeners to "play responsibly"). This is ab
      • It's not so easy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ciaran2014 ( 3815793 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:19AM (#50160157) Homepage

        > he was an idiot for buying the ticket himself.

        I agree, but at the same time, have a think about how many people you know to whom you can say: "I found a way to defraud a company of 14 million and you can have half but I need you to put your name to it."

        Rule out all your acquaintances who aren't smart enough to avoid fucking it up, plus those who you can't trust, and rule out friends with kids or a job who are afraid of jail time, and people who can't keep a secret from their own friends and family who might fuck it up. And remember, for each person who says "no" to your plan, you've just created someone who can testify against you or blackmail you.

        And then your accomplice has to get your half to you. A bank transfer of seven million is a little incriminating, or if they give you a suitcase of cash, you can't just lodge it into your account. "Enjoying" your money isn't so easy when you have to avoid ever creating a record of having the money.

        Finding an accomplice for a big illegal act isn't *that* easy.

        • by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:33AM (#50160301)

          This is exactly what I was thinking.

          You need someone criminal enough to go along with it, loyal enough to never divulge the secret, competent enough to not screw it up and savvy enough to not trip on any of the hundred pitfalls along the way... that's sort of a tall order.

        • And then your accomplice has to get your half to you. A bank transfer of seven million is a little incriminating, or if they give you a suitcase of cash, you can't just lodge it into your account. "Enjoying" your money isn't so easy when you have to avoid ever creating a record of having the money.

          Well, as long as you can avoid the government spying program, I mean Anti-terrorist program that requires banks to notify the government of any large deposit, I would think you would be okay. It is not like the inter state lottery is going to keep track of where their winners spend their money, or even has the jurisdiction to do so. The only reason they could is if there was previous suspicion and they could get a judge to issue a warrant.
          Even if you tripped the government's bells over a large deposit, I d

        • by hippo ( 107522 )

          Yes it is, just contact the mafia and expect to settle for a 10% cut.

        • ...plus those who you can't trust

          You do raise some really good points (although I'm pretty sure I can think of at least a few friends who could go along w/ it), but the trust issue could be greatly mitigated by a video recording of the illicit agreement. If your friend tries to make off with all of it, you have evidence of their complicity.

          It is rather baffling that this person didn't execute his plan any better. He should have had his friend buying lottery tickets every day for months beforehand.

          • I know a few people with the technical know-how to pull this kind of thing off, and then completely fuck it up when it came to common sense stuff.

            I'm thinking of one person in particular who wanted to steal a companies data and try to sell it to another company for a few thousand dollars. He seemed pretty sure that the "I didn't steal the data, I generated the same data independently" defense would be unimpeachable. He seemed to confuse the notion of "proving something with certainty" with "proving someth

          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

            And make the winning numbers something meaningful to him so he has a good, natural story for why he picked them. Daughter's birthday or something.

        • It's much easier...

          You to trusted friend: "Hey want to buy a lottery ticket? I'll go in half but can't pick it up today if you don't mind paying for it." Use these numbers, it's my lucky numbers.

          Done. I have friends that I'm 98% sure they would give me half and not let me worry about being in the public spot light.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          In this particular case the requirements seem to be very low, any doofus can win the lottery and it doesn't require any elaborate explanations. You bought a lottery ticket, you won, lucky you. The lottery makes the payout and case closed, if that's all done why wouldn't you just make a bank transfer? As long as you do everything openly with the IRS and pay your taxes I don't see why they'd even look twice. The bank isn't likely to tell anyone because of client confidentiality, the winner just says he gave h

        • And then your accomplice has to get your half to you. A bank transfer of seven million is a little incriminating, or if they give you a suitcase of cash, you can't just lodge it into your account. "Enjoying" your money isn't so easy when you have to avoid ever creating a record of having the money.

          Well there is more on this thing when you are including "taxes." The taxes would eventually help to find its way back to the employee's plan. By the way, for 14 millions and if he chooses to do 50:50, the whole taxes witholding may be on him and that would net him 3.5 millions instead of 7 millions.

        • I recommend being a "benevolent" lottery cheater. You can find out what numbers your friends and family members have picked (or always pick), and just rig the game for those numbers to come up.

          They won't know of any cheating, so they won't act nervous or weird.

          If enough of your friends and family win the lottery, maybe they will give you some.

        • Also, what is to say that your "friend" who buys the ticket doesn't just go to another convenience store and buy another ticket with the same numbers. Then there would be 2 winners, and your takeaway winnings would be reduced proportionally. Also, the friend could tell other friends, and so on, and so on, and so on, until you win only $30.
    • Stupid? How about smart, smart knowing if they lied they would be going to jail too. I'm guessing they were not as much his friends as he though they were lol.
  • and could not manage to find a stand up guy to buy the ticket for him?

    _________
    Only if villains could shoot straight
  • In his master plan to steal 14 million dollars, he forgot to tell his accomplice to not blow him in?
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:01AM (#50160015)

    >> he tried to get acquaintances to cash the winning ticket for him

    He should have looked into how insiders scammed McDonald's Monopoly contests for about $13M first.
    http://lubbockonline.com/stori... [lubbockonline.com]

  • ...everyone should learn to program. :)

  • First clue something was wrong was the winning number was 1-2-3-4-5-6.
  • It's times like these when a truly clever criminal would make use of a social security number and fake identity set up years before.

  • Man was a fool. When doing Insider trading, the only real important part is to GET A TRUSTWORTHY PARTNER TO CLAIM THE MONEY.

    Everything else is relatively unimportant. Anyone can code a script to steal the lottery. Well, any of us here could do it.

    There are certain parts of a crime that they don't show on TV, so stupid criminals don't do them. This is half the reason why they get caught.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      So when this trusted friend claims the $14m and then decides to keep it all, what do you do then? Hey, he's not sharing the money from the scheme I rigged?

      It sounds like the perfect crime...from the trusted friend's perspective.

      • Have dirt on them? Threaten murder?

        • Yea, I have to say, anyone willing to steal 14 million dollars and involve me in the process... expects to get their cut of 7 million...

          I wouldn't put it past them to not think about killing me...

          I'd rather have 7 million and know that the person who knows WHY I have 7 million also has 7 million and is happy, than to have 14 million and look over my shoulder for the rest of my life.

          When you're committing a crime, don't screw your partner who can expose you.

          Crime 101 I suppose...

          • When you're committing a crime, don't screw your partner who can expose you.

            Crime 101 I suppose...

            I refer you to the opening heist of The Dark Knight, where each of the gang members shoots the gang member who has just done his bit.

            "So do you kill me?"
            "No, I kill the bus driver."
            "Bus driver?"
            (Bus crashes through wall, killing the first gang member. Second gang member shoots the bus driver)

        • You're going to threaten murder on the guy with $14 million and who already has demonstrated his loyalty?

          Seems to me he's the who could organize a professional hit...

      • So when this trusted friend claims the $14m and then decides to keep it all, what do you do then?

        Find somebody else you trust and do it again.... Eventually you will find a honorable criminal to share the wealth with... Better yet, blackmail the winners by threatening to turn yourself in if they don't keep you flush with spending money.

        He was going to get caught anyway, it was just a matter of time. ANYBODY who won the lottery who started transferring large sums of money to someone who currently or even used to work for the lottery is asking for a real close look by authorities.

  • Naturally we only know about the times that this type of scheme fails.
    If the lottery worker had got a 3rd party to buy the ticket in exchange for a large share
    to the winnings (e.g. 50%) would he have got away with it?

    • having worked in the gaming industry, you don't want to even have an air of suspicion around improper tampering of a gaming system, in this case a lottery system. Even if you're innocent you can lose your ability to make a living because you won't be able to be licensed or carried under a licensed gaming manufacturer.

      • Got $14M, don't care.

        • No, you have $14m in credited assets that the government can seize when there's any indication of fraud. You may have it for a short time, but before you realize it somebody goes WTF and you're in jail.

  • The infrastructure to launder this type of asset is well established and readily accessed

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:38AM (#50160347)

    Once it became obvious he couldn't cash in the ticket without giving his real name, Tipton should have let it go uncollected. Once he figured out a way around the problem, he could have run his program again and cashed in.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @10:42AM (#50160389) Homepage

    His obvious mistake was going for the jackpot. If he rigged it for smaller payouts under $500 over a long period of time, he might have escaped detection. Big numbers attract attention, smaller numbers seldom do.

    • Perhaps, but the idea behind his sceme was the programs did what it did one time and deleted itself, so there would be very little to find later on. Very risky to have the program running of any lenght of time.

      • Not to mention beating the odds in the long haul is much more suspicious to me at least. The odds of hitting the lottery for one big payout is nothing compared with consistently winning the 3 digit lottery over the long run.
  • This is why the lotto should stick to the time-proven technology of a giant cage of numbered balls rolling down a chute.

    • This is why the lotto should stick to the time-proven technology of a giant cage of numbered balls rolling down a chute.

      Like that's never been rigged....

      • by jonwil ( 467024 )

        It may well be possible to rig the spinning cage full of balls. But I bet its a LOT harder to do (and a LOT riskier in terms of getting caught or getting it wrong and not getting the numbers you thought you were going to get).

        • I'm not so sure it's all that hard to do myself. I can imagine a number of ways which may allow you to take out a bit of randomness by adjusting the size and weight of things and stack the odds in a way you could profit from. How you could do such a thing without getting caught though is an issue, but I'm sure somebody is clever enough to work out that detail if they could engineer the necessary changes to the physical system.

          Think of it as the same kind of gaming the system as card counting is in blackja

  • Why would they let a computer choose the numbers? That is subject to fraud. Why not have a random drawing like anybody with a shred of common sense would do?
    • A well programmed random number generator is going to be better than kind of "random drawing". The problem was the lack of oversight in having the code be submitted. Any code changes that would hurt the reputation of an organization this badly should require multiple sign offs by code reviewers.

      Now, it is possible that this got past the code reviewers, in which case I either congratulate the fraudster for some real underhanded coding, or I accuse the code reviewers for being inept.

      It is also possible that t

    • Why do we allow a computer program to count our election results with no oversight?
  • All he was in trouble for was playing the lottery as an employee. Then it comes out that he monkeyed with the program. Did he give them that, or did they find evidence and confront him?
    Also, didn't this all happen like a year ago? I seem to remember hearing about it a long time ago. Is slashdot just hearing about it now?
  • I buy a donut and a $1-2 lottery ticket a couple times a week in CA at the same bakery.

    Over several years it is obvious that the "Mega" number on each pick in that particular store is not random!

    Approx 80% of all Mega numbers are in the range of 1-13. Someone has rigged the California Lottery, judging by what I see. Let the CA operator refute it.

  • I wonder if everyone that played that week could get a free ticket since it wasn't a fair draw. Probably a class action suit in there somewhere.

  • He should have found someone, ideally a close family member who would have shared the prize, who had been playing the same numbers every week for years and had those number drawn. No need to go out and buy a ticket specifically for that draw himself and the pattern of the other person would have looked good too.

  • what kind of retarded shit is that? I'm surprised it took this long before someone tampered with the computer to win.

    California state lottery used to show their winning lotto numbers on live TV with a bunch of ping pong balls in a clear plastic chamber. High velocity air was pumped into it so that the balls bounced around like crazy. Then they would open a slot (also made of clear plastic) and 6 balls would fall in and those were your winning numbers. It was a very transparent setup (literally) and it was o

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