Have you ever considered whether that tatty old lottery ticket you found laying there in front of you on the ground could just be a winner? What do you suppose would happen you found out it was worth a lot of money?
Below we’ve shown some real stories of people who did find winning tickets and tried to cash them in. Not all of them lucked out for various reasons but others did indeed manage to collect the winnings from the ticket they found.
Ticket found on a supermarket floor
Amanda and Michael Stacey from Swindon in the UK were great believers in that old saying ‘ finders keepers, losers’ weepers’ especially as Amanda saw a lottery ticket on the floor of their local supermarket and picked it up. She thought that you never know whether it was a winner or not but it was so she decided to try to cash it in. Unfortunately for her it didn’t go too well as it turned out the cash prize was £30,000 and after spending £15,000 of the money, the original purchaser of the ticket who was a lady by the name of Dorothy McDonagh was able to prove that it was her ticket and not Amanda’s.
They were both taken to a magistrate’s court where they pleaded guilty of theft and fraud and had to pay the remaining £15,000 they still had straight to Dorothy McDonagh. The lottery itself refused to pay out the further £15,000 to Dorothy that Amanda and Michael had spent. The scandal was all over the newspapers and both parties felt aggrieved as the Stacey’s had a criminal conviction against their name while Dorothy never got the other £15,000 still owed to her. Not a good outcome, unfortunately.
In Central Park in New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy while bagging up fallen leaves, 27-year-old landscaper Marvin Martinez found an unsigned and unscratched scratch card among the leaves he was picking up. He said “I still don’t know what made me pick it up” but was very happy he did as once he’d scratched the card there were three numbers that confirmed he’d won one thousand dollars a week for life.
Marvin wanted everything to be above board and correct so he contacted the lottery organisers and told them exactly how he came to have the ticket and he was told that an investigation would take place. He carried on working and more or less forgot about the ticket as he was sure nothing would happen with it. It seems, in this case, the ‘finders keepers’ rule did apply as no person came forward to claim the prize after a whole year so he was confirmed as the rightful winner. Rather than the thousand dollars a week for life, Marvin went for the lump sum of $515,612 after taxes so that he could buy a house and finally have his honeymoon in Miami with his recently married wife.
Winning ticket found by a homeless man
On the UK owned Channel Island of Jersey, a 58-year-old homeless man named John Michael Le Blancq had been living in on the streets and in homeless shelters when he found a scratch card that was a winner. It was only worth £200 but that’s a lot of money when you’re homeless and he used the cash to buy himself a one-way ferry ticket to mainland Portsmouth looking for a new start. The thing is, the owner of the ticket had taken the trouble to photograph it on her mobile phone and reported that the ticket was missing to the police.
The very unfortunate Michael Le Blancq was found by the police and when in court, they ordered him to pay back the £200 plus a fine of £100 for the crime of ‘theft by finding’. This did have a happy ending for Michael as a local gym owner, Cameron Elliot, heard about Michael’s plight and he offered to pay the fine and posted it on his Facebook page which immediately went viral. A kind lady from Jersey Kylie-Ann Ware was moved by his predicament and she opened a ‘Just Giving’ crowdfunding page to help him and over a thousand pounds was raised by generous people online. After his fine was paid, the rest of the money was donated the same Jersey shelter where he had spent so many nights previously.
From the rubbish bin and into cash
This is a tricky one as the case of the lost scratch card that was trying to be claimed by three different women who wanted lay claim to the million-dollar cash prize that the ticket was worth. The when the original owner of the ticket Sharon Duncan from Arkansas had it scanned at her local convenience store and was told it was not a winner, she just threw her scratch card into the rubbish bin and thought no more about it. Now along comes Sharon Jones who liked to collect unwanted lottery tickets hoping she might eventually find a winner. At last her bin scavenging paid off and the ticket she found was worth a million dollars or so she thought.
This matter ended up in court as Lisa Petriche the store manager was also laying claim to the win as she said there was a note that said tickets shouldn’t be removed from the shop waste bin. The judge said that the original ticket owner Sharon Duncan didn’t willingly give away the million-dollar ticket and was misled by the shop scanner that gave the wrong results. The problem was that Sharon Jones who found the ticket and cashed it in had already used $190,000 of the million to pay off her debts, to buy a pickup truck and gave money to her kids. Even though the judge ordered the unemployed Sharon Jones to repay all of the money, they reached an out of court settlement with the rightful owner Sharon Duncan and the store owner was told to go and take a hike as she had absolutely no claim on the million-dollar prize.
Diving into a dumpster yields a nice reward
Lorenzo Juarez from California had recently split up with his partner and was feeling a rather depressed and fed up especially as his 39th birthday was coming up soon. He’d been unemployed for the last four years and felt he needed a bit of good luck in his life and his trip into the local market in Stockton changed things in his favour somewhat. Lorenzo was waiting in the queue to pay for some water when the customer in front of him in an irate mood started complaining and tore up his lottery ticket and scratch card and shouted “I don’t need the money!” then stormed out of the building.
Lorenzo saw him throw the torn up lottery ticket and scratch card into the dumpster behind the shop so straight away he jumped inside the big rubbish bin and tried to retrieve as many pieces of scratch card as he could find and then returned to the store with all the bits. After patiently waiting for the cashier to find the winning numbers from the ticket scraps, Lorenzo’s patience paid off as he was able to claim the $500 cash prize.
Are you lawfully allowed to claim the prize from a lottery ticket that you found?
One of the most common pieces of good advice given when you buy a lottery ticket is to sign the back of the ticket including your home address to prove it’s yours. Most of the lottery organisers do try to establish the correct owner of the ticket and are able to confirm the time and date the ticket was bought including the outlet where it was bought from. If the lottery ticket was paid for by a credit or debit card it will be quite easy to track down the relevant winner but if it was paid for in cash and the ticket is unsigned, it gets a lot tougher to claim that the lost ticket belongs to you.
You can glean from the information above that trying to claim a lottery prize from someone else’s ticket that you didn’t pay for can end up with you being charged with fraud. It’s very risky to assume the original buyer of the ticket did not pay for it with a card and that they will know you didn’t buy it and had found it instead. Honesty is the best policy and you should always inform the relevant authorities that you found the ticket and did not pay for it yourself. You could be lucky like Marvin Martinez who was picking up leaves in Central Park and receive the prize money if nobody else claims it in the allocated time frame.
There is a way where it is impossible for you to lose your lottery ticket or have someone else cash it in and that is to play online where everything is very secure on our website at PlayUKLottery.com. It’s really easy to play on our user-friendly site which is packed with lottery information.
Have fun playing your favourite lottery and may Lady Luck be there with a helping hand alongside you.