8. A Criminal Gang And Several Blindfolded Children
In December 1998, the Italian lottery became enmeshed in a scandal after it was discovered that a criminal gang had been rigging it. At the time, the winning numbers of the lottery were selected by blindfolded children picking balls from a metal basket.
However, a syndicate had bribed the children and trained them to pick special balls that were smoother and bigger than the other balls. Curiously, most of the children were related to employees of the finance ministry that oversaw the lottery. One of the most affected lotteries was held in Brescia, Italy, and involved a fraudulent win of over £3 million.
Trouble started when the finance ministry employee running the scheme was posted to another office. He informed the group about ending the fraud. However, the group refused and tried to coerce him to encourage another colleague to take over.
The ministry employee refused and insisted on ending the scheme. The gang responded by harassing the employee and his relatives. They even shot at his car and some other businesses linked to his relatives. His wife soon got fed up and informed the police, blowing the scheme wide open.
7. Jerry And Marge Selbee
In 2003, Jerry Selbee discovered a loophole in the Michigan WinFall lottery. Unlike the Mega Millions lottery, where the jackpot continues to increase until someone manages to get all six numbers, the jackpot of the WinFall lottery stopped increasing when it reached $5 million.
Instead, if nobody got all six numbers, the money was shared among people with five numbers, then four, and then three. This is called a roll-down. Jerry, a math graduate, discovered that he had a higher probability of winning a roll-down, so he started purchasing tickets during roll-downs to win two times his investments.
His wife, Marge, soon got involved, and they started investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the scheme. Desperate for more wins, the couple founded G.S. Investment Strategies to allow friends and family to buy shares in their lottery scheme.
In 2005, the couple abandoned the Michigan WinFall lottery for the Massachusetts Cash WinFall. They drove 14 hours to Massachusetts to buy hundreds of thousands of tickets during roll-downs. Their game was up in 2011, when The Boston Globe began investigating massive ticket sales at some stores where the couple had been buying tickets.
The Boston Globe uncovered the plot, along with a similar scheme run by some math students at MIT. By then, the Jerry and Marge had won $26 million. Investigators concluded that the couple and the MIT students had not broken any laws. However, the loophole forced the state to shut the game down.