Iowa Lottery still hunting mystery Hot Lotto winner [video]

Oct 10, 2014, 8:06 pm (19 comments)

Hot Lotto

Includes video report

Iowa investigators are asking the public for help in identifying the person who bought a lottery ticket worth $14.3 million that spawned a bizarre, two-year fraud investigation.

Investigators want to learn the identity of a white man wearing a hooded sweatshirt who purchased the lottery ticket at a QuikTrip near Interstate Highway 80 on Dec. 23, 2010, said Dave Jobes, an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation assistant director, during a news conference Thursday. The video released Thursday shows the purchase from two angles; however, a hood hides the man's face from viewers.

It is unknown whether the man is an Iowa resident, Jobes said. It's possible — given the gas station's close proximity to the cross-country interstate — that the purchaser was traveling through Iowa at the time, he said.

It also remains unknown whether the purchaser was a participant in the fraud that led to the investigation or a crime victim himself, Jobes said. Investigators want anybody who believes they recognize the purchaser to share information online via SurveyMonkey.

The man arrived at the northeast Des Moines convenience store midafternoon on Dec. 23, 2010. The video shows a white man wearing a hoodie with the hood up and a baseball cap buying two hot dogs and two lottery tickets. The man declines the $1 "Sizzler" option, which increases prizes in some cases. The winning ticket was time-stamped 3:24 p.m.

The buyer never looks up enough to get a clear shot of his face, state officials said.

Several days later, the ticket came up a winner. But the ticket went unclaimed for nearly a year. Hours before the ticket was to expire in 2011, a group called Hexham Investments Trust — a mysterious company incorporated in Belize — tried to claim the prize through a New York attorney named Crawford Shaw.

Those behind the trust refused to reveal their identities, which is required under Iowa law. Lottery officials refused to release the cash.

In a last-ditch effort, Shaw asked if Hexham Investments could claim the cash and turn it over to the state to give away to charity.

Lottery officials declined the offer, saying it was the duty of the prize winner to accept and distribute the funds. Hexham Investments and Shaw gave up their claim to the cash. The prize money was returned to the states participating in Hot Lotto. The Iowa Lottery used its portion of the prize money for a special game in 2012.

Since then, DCI officials have kept the investigation active. They even traveled to Canada to check out a lead, but no charges have ever been filed. In Thursday's news conference, Jobes said Shaw has continued to help DCI investigators with the case.

Jobes declined to say whether there is surveillance video available of the ticket purchaser leaving the gas station or driving away. Currently, investigators believe that the person or people behind Hexham Investments were not the original owners of the ticket and committed fraud by trying to get the money.

"A fraud was perpetrated when someone attempted to redeem the ticket fraudulently," Jobes said. "The other reason to pursue it is we don't know if something happened to the original ticket purchaser."

Iowa's statute of limitations for fraud charges is three years, Jobes said. While the clock is ticking, investigators have not put together a full timeline of how any fraud happened, he said. He still believes fraud charges can be brought against people involved, he said.

"The statute of limitations begins at the last act in furtherance of the fraud, and right now we don't know when that act occurred," he said. "There's not a hard timeline right now."

VIDEO: Watch the surveillance footage

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A compilation of Lottery Post news stories chronicling the Hot Lotto mystery.

Lottery Post Staff


MillionsWanted's avatarMillionsWanted

Only allowing registered players to buy tickets will solve these kind of problems.

Theox-'s avatarTheox-

I haven't ever seen a retail security camera with audio before.


Quote: Originally posted by Theox- on Oct 11, 2014

I haven't ever seen a retail security camera with audio before.

I've never seen anyone walk into a convenience store and keep their hoodie on before.

helpmewin's avatarhelpmewin

Quote: Originally posted by PrinceRene on Oct 11, 2014

I've never seen anyone walk into a convenience store and keep their hoodie on before.

Maybe it is Cold in IOWA Yes Nod

CDanaT's avatarCDanaT

perhaps the individual is wanted by the government or a criminal organization...or maybe in the witness protection program  What?


That really sucks. Confused

KY Floyd's avatarKY Floyd

Quote: Originally posted by Theox- on Oct 11, 2014

I haven't ever seen a retail security camera with audio before.

Maybe because it probably constitutes wiretapping in any jurisdiction that requires all parties to a conversation to consent to recording it. Iowa is a "one party" state, meaning any participant to a conversation can consent to having the conversation recorded. Even then there will be limitations where  a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. That wouldn't apply at the counter of a convenience store, but would  almost certainly apply in apharmacy where you may be discussing  your health care.

I've got to say, that's a pretty awful security video, even with audio.  Even if the guy wasn't wearing the hoodie it probably wouldn't be easy to recognize him given the high angle and distance. Obviously it would be nice to identify the guy in this case, but if I  buy a winning lottery ticket I'd prefer that the video only corroborate  that purchase after I come forward, rather than making it easy for casual acquaintances to  identify me  if somebody decides to post the video.

Todd's avatarTodd

Quote: Originally posted by PrinceRene on Oct 11, 2014

I've never seen anyone walk into a convenience store and keep their hoodie on before.

Trayvon Martin did it:

Marilyn222's avatarMarilyn222

Quote: Originally posted by Todd on Oct 11, 2014

Trayvon Martin did it:

He did?Smile

RedStang's avatarRedStang

Weird stuff. If they could show the vehicle i think it would help more.


Quote: Originally posted by RedStang on Oct 11, 2014

Weird stuff. If they could show the vehicle i think it would help more.

It's strange a store that has cameras inside and a mic to capture audio would not also have a camera outside.


My favorite lottery story from the past several years. Glad to read an update on it. (Probably the story that got me to register an LP account.)

My current theory: the individual who bought the ticket wanted anonymity to avoid something (taxes, a lien, alimony, child support, who knows what) and found some black market where he could get $3-6 million in cash and walk away. And is now nervous that the story won't go away.

Anyone care to shoot a hole in that scenario?


Edit: P.S. Or he or a family member is a lottery employee that would not have been eligible to collect.

KY Floyd's avatarKY Floyd

What kind of past-due taxes, alimony or child support could you possibly owe that would make you pass on collecting that much money? Whoever sent he lawyer had the option of identifying themselves in order to collect the money, so they must have had a reason for not wanting the lottery to know who they were that goes well beyond losing some of the money to  a debt. The only possibilities I see are that the person who bought the ticket was prohibited from winning because they or close family work for the lottery, or the somebody other than the original purchaser came into possession of the ticket under questionable circumstances.

The problem with the first scenario is that the original purchaser could have given the ticket to somebody as a gift, and probably have had at least as good a chance as collecting a share from that person as trying to claim it without revealing their identity. If the purchaser wasn't the employee they could even have taken their chances with suing in the hopes that a court would rule that being related to an employee can't revoke their right to play a game of chance offered by the government. There's also the matter of timing. Why did they wait until the very last minute? A lottery employee with a winning ticket would presumably have been trying to make plans from the moment they knew they had one.

OTOH, there are countless ways that somebody else could have come into possession of the ticket without gaining lawful ownership. In that case waiting would probably make it less likely that the original purchaser (or their survivors) would be an obstacle, and it would allow time to search for clues that the original purchaser even knew the ticket was missing or was a winner. Waiting until the very last minute still strikes me as a good way to raise suspicions, though, especially considering that they used an out of state attorney to try and claim for an anonymous foreign trust.


File this article under "Unpaid Child Support & Expensive Alimony" category Todd.  LOL

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