A convicted rapist has been jailed for nine years after cashing in a fake lottery ticket to claim a £2.5 million jackpot.
After swindling lottery operator Camelot in 2009, Edward Putman, 54 has finally started his nine-year jail sentence.
Putman conspired with an insider, Giles Knibbs who worked at the National Lottery to cheat the system and present a counterfeit slip to claim the lottery prize of £2.5 million.
As Knibbs, worked in Camelot's securities department, they hatched the plan to defraud Camelot. Knibbs worked at Camelot’s fraud detection department between 2004 and 2010, working out a way to cheat the system.
According to police reports, it was Knibbs who provided a fake winning ticket to Putman who claimed the win just before it “expired”.
He submitted the deliberately damaged forgery, which was accepted as authentic even though it was missing a barcode, the trial heard.
The fraud came crashing down when Knibbs of Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire, confessed to friends that he had "conned" the Lottery.
Apparently the two also had a heated row about how the winnings were to be divided. Knibbs felt he had been treated unfairly, which led to the argument.
Fearing a 15-year sentence for his part in the fraud, Knibbs took his own life in October 2015.
Shortly before taking his own life, Knibbs damaged Putman’s car and stole his phone. Putman complained to police, and he was arrested for criminal damage, burglary and blackmail.
Prosecutor James Keeley told the court that there was "some trial and error" in producing a successfully forged ticket, with several different specimens made, each with one of the 100 different possible unique codes on the bottom.
"The real winning ticket may still be out there, for the real winner has never been identified," Mr Keeley told the court.
Detective Chief Inspector Sam Khanna of Hertfordshire's Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit said that the sentence handed out by the judge reflected "the amount of time and resources it has taken to investigate and bring this case to court."
He went on to say that Putman's assets would be seized and “authorities would recover as much of his fraudulently acquired winnings as they can.”
Court proceedings revealed that Knibbs had received £280,000 for his role, as well as a further £50,000 in smaller transfers.
The lottery fraud wasn’t the only thing that Putman’s been found guilty of. Despite his multi-million pound windfall, three years later in 2012, Putman was sentenced to nine months for benefit fraud after going on to claim £13,000 in housing and income support.
Putman’s previous convictions also include the rape of a 17-year-old girl in 1991 for which he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
District Crown Prosecutor Tapashi Nadarajah: "Edward Putman deceived the National Lottery operators with his 'winning' ticket, making him a millionaire; but his lies unravelled with the tragic death of his co-conspirator who he wasn't prepared to share the money with."
Putman's response to the judge's ruling was simply: "I can't believe what I'm hearing."
On handing down the sentence, Judge Philip Grey said the ‘sophisticated, carefully planned, and diligently operated fraud’. He said: ‘You would have got away with this but quite plainly you were greedy’.
He continued, ‘Whatever the exact monetary split you and Mr Knibbs had agreed, you did not pay him what split he felt he was owed. The two of you fell out spectacularly. ‘This crime struck at the integrity of the National Lottery. You have also undermined the public’s trust in the lottery itself.’
A Camelot spokesman commented that this was a ‘unique, one-off incident over a decade ago’. He continued: ‘There were some weaknesses in some of the specific controls relevant to this incident at the time and we’re very sorry for that.’
‘We’ve strengthened our processes significantly since then and are completely confident that an incident of this nature could not happen today.’