The National Lottery operator, Camelot, is “considering its options” after the man who allegedly claimed a £2.5m prize by fraudulent means was named in the media as a convicted rapist.
The Gambling Commission said on Thursday that it had fined Camelot£3mfor paying out the £2.5m prize in 2009 on a ticket that had allegedly been deliberately damaged. The suspected fraud was not discovered until last year.
Neither Camelot nor the Gambling Commission would confirm or deny that Edward Putman, who was convicted of rape in the 1990s and whose lottery win emerged in a fraud case four years ago, was the winner under suspicion.
The 51-year-old from Kings Langley, who has previous convictions for rape, wounding and benefit fraud, was arrested for fraud last October but was released without charge because of a lack of evidence. Hertfordshire police say they will reopen the case if new evidence comes to light.
Putman, who opted out of publicity opportunities at the time of his win, was in the headlines in 2012 when he was taken to court for illegally claiming £13,000 of welfare benefits after winning his jackpot. His previous convictions, for the rape of a 17-year-old in the 1990s and wounding in the 1980s, also emerged.
The gambling watchdog, which has fined Camelot twice before, said that although its investigation “could not be certain a fraud had taken place, it was more likely than not that a fraudulent prize claim had been made and paid out”.
The commission ruled that the lottery operator had breached the terms of its lottery operating licence over control of its databases, the way it investigated prize claims and its processes “around the decision to pay a prize”. Andy Duncan, Camelot’s chief executive, apologised for its failures but said such an incident was “not repeatable today”.
Camelot has paid the penalty imposed by the commission, which will been given to charities, and said that it was not connected to the draws for the winning numbers, but to do with its system for preventing fraudulent claims on a deliberately damaged ticket. The incident was described as “unique”.
None of the money has been paid back by Putman, and Camelot said it was now considering its options. The company would not comment on reports that Putman was the individual concerned.
Herfordshire police said it had closed its investigation. “An allegation of fraud connected to a lottery win from 2009 was investigated by Hertfordshire constabulary’s specialist cyber and financial investigation unit working with the Gambling Commission. As part of the investigation a man was arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. Following a thorough investigation, the man was released with no further action to be taken against him.”
The lottery operator admitted it had made mistakes, but would not comment on whether any employees may have been involved.
Duncan said: “We accept that, at the time, there were some weaknesses in some of the specific controls relevant to this incident and we’re very sorry for that. We’ve strengthened our processes significantly since 2009 and are completely confident that an incident of this nature could not happen today,” he said.
“It’s really important that people understand that this allegation relates to a unique, one-off incident dating back to 2009 and involves a potentially fraudulent claim on a deliberately damaged ticket. It has nothing to do with the National Lottery draws themselves.”
The commission’s chief executive, Sarah Harrison, said its main concern was to ensure the National Lottery was run with integrity and that players’ interests were protected.
“Camelot’s failures in this case are serious and the penalty package reflects this,” she said. “Importantly, the package also ensures that good causes will not lose out as a result of Camelot’s licence breach.
“Lottery players can feel reassured that our investigations have found no evidence of similar events happening and that controls are in place today to mitigate against future prize payout failings of this type.”
Source: The Guardian