Lotto fraud – a confederacy of dunces

I’ll be upfront: I think playing the lottery is stupid.  That doesn’t stop me from sometimes partaking – I’ll blow an occasional 50 cents on the Ontario 49 or if Lottario goes over 500K I might waste a dollar on a ticket.  I’ve won 5 dollars twice in Lottario and $50 in Ontario 49 so at this point I’ve probably broken even.

Despite full awareness of the miniscule odds of even getting a free ticket let alone millions of dollars, I have always checked the numbers myself.  If not online or on the little ticker that runs on CP24, most retailers have a bundle of tickets that contain the winning numbers right in the blue booth.  I always do the quick pick, so I manually check each number. After all, if I haven’t won anything I don’t see much point in bothering the cashier.  I’ve always thought that those who just take their tickets to the clerk must be pretty lazy.

Those who play the same numbers each week have even less of an excuse.  A quick scan of the winnings numbers – they really aren’t hard to find – and you should be able to tell you’ve won something.

So in some ways it’s a little hard to feel much pity for those who’ve been scammed.  Especially when those doing the scamming are often treated by customers as though they are only one rung up on the social ladder from the homeless guy with the coffee cup sitting outside their store.

At the same time, my work lottery pool typically plays about twenty sets of numbers or so depending on the size of the jackpot.  I’ve stood in line behind others who seem to grab a fistful every week – if they invested that money instead they probably would have been millionaires by now.  Even then I’d still compare at least the first and last numbers to ensure no jackpot was won. Not that I don’t trust my co-worker who manages it, but  I don’t know how thoroughly she checks either.  Nevertheless, society does function best when a certain amount of order and mutual trust is the norm.  And right now, the lottery retail system in Canada resembles that of New York garbage collection in the 80s.

The chief dunce has to be the guy who stole the $5.7million jackpot though.  Not that I’d ever steal that much money (or any money for that matter), but if I were to steal that big a sum I sure as hell wouldn’t be dumb enough to stay in the same city let alone the same country! I suppose if he bought a giant HDTV with some of the purloined winnings he never switched it to the news once in the past year, or perhaps assumed that the Ombudsman would only want to investigate all the other shady retailers out there.

It must take a special kind of arrogance and stupidity to pull the stunt that this ex-store owner is alleged to have pulled.  For a start, if I just had millions of dollars I sure as heck wouldn’t stick out a single Ontario winter.  I certainly wouldn’t be dumb enough to buy a huge freakin’ mansion in the same city.

But I suppose that the people who are not so stupid and arrogant as to do those things would also not try to steal someone else’s jackpot in the first place. No matter how stupid you thought even they were.

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