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Newspaper photo reveals lottery winner's personal information

Maine LotteryMaine Lottery: Newspaper photo reveals lottery winner's personal information
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by Todd Northrop

Maine's Morning Sentinel newspaper appears to have revealed a lottery winner's address and social security number in a published photo.

In a story that ran in the February 27 edition of the Sentinel, Newport resident Venison Turner Jr. was pictured together with his son, holding a copy of a winning ticket worth $300,000 and the paperwork filed with the Maine Lottery. The man's personal information is clearly visible.

In the Sunday, March 11 edition of the Sentinel, a letter from reader John Ferry was published, scolding the paper for missing the glaring mistake.

"What has he won? Because of the lack of editing he has won a lifetime of grief," Ferry wrote. "Within seconds of glancing at this picture, I noticed the form in the picture includes the man's name, address, telephone number, date of birth and even his Social Security number."

Photographs of smiling lottery winners holding giant mock checks made of cardboard are commonplace after a big win. The photos normally display the winner's name and prize amount, both of which are required to be disclosed anyway, so they are not considered private.

But disclosing a winner's address and other personal details can magnify the already difficult task of maintaining a degree of privacy that winners face, and may even be dangerous.

Criminals looking for easy targets have targeted lottery winners in the past. Because lottery winners often come from humble beginnings, they typically do not have the security resources or experience to protect their new wealth — a fact that thieves use to their advantage.

Publishing a winner's address immediately after a big prize win allows a quick-acting thief a window of opportunity, before the winner is able to equip themselves.

A famous example is record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker, who has been repeatedly robbed over the years, due in large part to his notoriety combined with naiveté.

According to Eric Conrad, Executive Editor of the Morning Sentinel, the photo was taken at the winner's home.

Even though Conrad emphasized that the photo was not displayed on any of the newspaper's web sites, it was indeed posted on the Sentinel web site, and continues to be displayed on the web site as of the date of this story. (http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/3660226.html)

Additionally, the photo in question can be enlarged by directly linking to the image file. Although the image is not displayed in high resolution, it may be enough for image experts to extract the personal information from it. (http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/includes/global2/centralmaine/photos/070227-3660137.jpg)

Maine's Morning Sentinel newspaper appears to have revealed a lottery winner's address and social security number in a published photo.Lottery Post has obtained the photo from the Sentinel's web site, and we have purposely blurred the personal information, so as to illustrate the point with further disseminating the prize winner's personal information.

Lottery Post's attempts to reach the Maine Lottery for comment were ignored by the government agency.

After the original photo ran in the Sentinel on February 27, the newspaper, as well as the winner himself, were contacted by readers concerned for Turner's safety. Conrad published an explanation of the newspaper's actions a day later.

Lottery Post presents Conrad's complete statement below.

Editor explains lottery winner's photo

Venison Turner Jr. is doing OK.

Tuesday's Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal ran a photo of the Newport man holding his winning, $300,000 Maine lottery ticket and claim form.

Unfortunately, in many issues of the newspapers, Turner's Social Security number and other data could be read. The photo was not posted at our newspaper Web sites.

I talked to Turner twice Tuesday morning and apologized for what happened. Photographer David Leaming did likewise. We also alerted officials with the Maine Lottery.

Turner was told about the photo by a friend before our first telephone call, and he already had contacted the Social Security Administration's fraud-prevention office.

The office told Turner how to go online and post notices with all major credit-reporting agencies so that no one can open an account using Turner's data without Turner, personally, approving the transaction by telephone or in writing. Turner has taken those steps.

Our newspapers have offered to hire an accountant or other professional to review Turner's credit reports to make certain his finances, and his recent good fortune, are protected.

At this point, Turner isn't sure that is necessary.

The photo was published this way: Leaming went to Turner's home Monday to take the winner's photo, and asked if Turner had the winning ticket or something official from the Lottery officials.

Turner retrieved the claim form, and the photo was snapped.

Several editors at the newspaper saw black-and-white, printout copies of the photo, but the numbers generally were not legible in them. Blown up in size as it appeared in the newspapers, many of the numbers could be read.

About a dozen readers called and wrote to us Tuesday about what happened. Thank you for pointing this out.

— Eric Conrad, executive editor [Morning Sentinel]

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13 comments. Last comment 8 years ago by Todd.
Page 1 of 1
spy153's avatar - maren

United States
Member #28409
December 15, 2005
1198 Posts
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Posted: March 14, 2007, 2:42 pm - IP Logged

kudos to you Todd, for blurring the numbers in your link photo. And kudos to those great citizens who wrote to the newspaper. The world can use all the help it can get. But Turner must have got caught up in the excitment.

voir-vous dans mes reves!Cool

    Avatar
    Coastal Georgia
    United States
    Member #2653
    October 30, 2003
    1866 Posts
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    Posted: March 14, 2007, 2:48 pm - IP Logged

    Good story, Todd...

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    DD

     

                                   

                  

     

     

      Avatar

      United States
      Member #34266
      March 1, 2006
      188 Posts
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      Posted: March 14, 2007, 4:11 pm - IP Logged

      Deer  Mr. Venison Turner, Jr,

            we made a mistake.......

        Raven62's avatar - binary
        New Jersey
        United States
        Member #17843
        June 28, 2005
        17937 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 14, 2007, 6:19 pm - IP Logged

        This is a good example of why you want to avoid publicity when you Win the lottery.

        If you do give in to the urge to get your Photograph Published in the Newspaper, then it becomes your responsibility to not allow Photographs of Documents which contain Personal Information which you wish to keep Confidential. (No one will watch out for your Privacy if you don't watch out for it yourself!)

        A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

          Avatar
          Coastal Georgia
          United States
          Member #2653
          October 30, 2003
          1866 Posts
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          Posted: March 14, 2007, 7:46 pm - IP Logged

          Deer  Mr. Venison Turner, Jr,

                we made a mistake.......

          Bambi,

          shouldn't that have been a misteak , not mistake ?

          They sure chopped Mr. Venison up, eh ?

          Gave him the bucks, then hit him with both barrells...

          Well done, Maine lottery...you certainly are in rare form...

           

          Git r dun..

           

                                         

                        

           

           

            Avatar

            United States
            Member #34266
            March 1, 2006
            188 Posts
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            Posted: March 14, 2007, 8:46 pm - IP Logged

            Bambi,

            shouldn't that have been a misteak , not mistake ?

            They sure chopped Mr. Venison up, eh ?

            Gave him the bucks, then hit him with both barrells...

            Well done, Maine lottery...you certainly are in rare form...

             

            Git r dun..

            DD,

            No misteak,  Sr.  Venison Turner, stated Jr. Venision is tough enough, not to follow the herd,  Sr. Venison is thrilled,  Venison Turner the Third,  will be attending hunter university.

            Bambini

              spy153's avatar - maren

              United States
              Member #28409
              December 15, 2005
              1198 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 14, 2007, 9:11 pm - IP Logged

              Bambi,

              shouldn't that have been a misteak , not mistake ?

              They sure chopped Mr. Venison up, eh ?

              Gave him the bucks, then hit him with both barrells...

              Well done, Maine lottery...you certainly are in rare form...

               

              Git r dun..

              ROFL I was wondering when it was going to hit you guys.

              voir-vous dans mes reves!Cool

                Avatar

                United States
                Member #972
                December 30, 2002
                461 Posts
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                Posted: March 14, 2007, 10:02 pm - IP Logged

                This is a case study of why winners need  lawyers and need to pick up their checks under anonymous trusts. Every lottery winner should have this story handed to them. I've said it before - there is no gain for the winner in being used for publicity purposes by the lottery or newspapers.  They won't get a cent more and their lives will not be easier in any way. What they will get is trouble, as this story shows.

                  Raven62's avatar - binary
                  New Jersey
                  United States
                  Member #17843
                  June 28, 2005
                  17937 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: March 14, 2007, 10:17 pm - IP Logged

                  This is a case study of why winners need  lawyers and need to pick up their checks under anonymous trusts. Every lottery winner should have this story handed to them. I've said it before - there is no gain for the winner in being used for publicity purposes by the lottery or newspapers.  They won't get a cent more and their lives will not be easier in any way. What they will get is trouble, as this story shows.

                  This Lottery Winner shot himself in the foot by holding up a document with confidential information on it for all to see, and then allowed that document to be photographed for publication in the local newspaper.

                  A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                    chasingadream's avatar - Archangel 01.jpg

                    United States
                    Member #38687
                    May 3, 2006
                    315 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 14, 2007, 11:54 pm - IP Logged

                    omg!!!!!

                    Oogle  waiting patiently for my jackpot

                      Avatar
                      NY
                      United States
                      Member #23835
                      October 16, 2005
                      2873 Posts
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                      Posted: March 15, 2007, 2:04 am - IP Logged

                      This is a case study of why winners need  lawyers and need to pick up their checks under anonymous trusts. Every lottery winner should have this story handed to them. I've said it before - there is no gain for the winner in being used for publicity purposes by the lottery or newspapers.  They won't get a cent more and their lives will not be easier in any way. What they will get is trouble, as this story shows.

                      This guy won 300 grand, and will  probably net about 200 grand. If he wasn't foolish enough to invite the press right into his kitchen he probably wouldn't have any serious hassles. This guy needs some common sense, but somebody who only nets 200 grand doesn't need 10 grand or more in legal fees on top of the taxes.

                        justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                        Wandering Aimlessly
                        United States
                        Member #25360
                        November 5, 2005
                        4458 Posts
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                        Posted: March 15, 2007, 2:15 am - IP Logged

                        Do you remember this?

                         http://www.snopes.com/katrina/photos/debitcard.asp 

                        Shortly after the Red Cross began issuing debit cards to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, a newspaper photographed a woman holding her Mastercard. Suddenly it was all over the internet. Several hours later there were numerous fraudulent charges on the card.

                          Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                          Chief Bottle Washer
                          New Jersey
                          United States
                          Member #1
                          May 31, 2000
                          21651 Posts
                          Online
                          Posted: March 15, 2007, 2:27 pm - IP Logged

                          UPDATE

                          The newspaper must have read this story, because now the photo has been taken offline, and it has been taken out of the story.

                          I'm glad they did that, but not so glad they said it was not posted online in the first place, without verifying that fact.

                           

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