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Court rejects Colorado man's claim to full $4.8M lottery jackpot he unwittingly split with scammers

Jun 21, 2019, 8:39 am

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Colorado LotteryColorado Lottery: Court rejects Colorado man's claim to full $4.8M lottery jackpot he unwittingly split with scammersRating:

Even though Amir Massihzadeh of Boulder, Colorado, was the only legitimate winner of a Colorado Lotto jackpot worth $4.8 million in 2005, he's not eligible to claim the full winnings, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in a decision released Thursday.

Massihzadeh, one of three ticket holders to win that jackpot, accepted his prize of $568,990, after taxes. But 10 years later, a criminal investigation exposed a scheme to rig lotteries across state lines, and officials determined the other two winning tickets that shared the same numbers as Massihzadeh's were fraudulent.

Although at least two of the men involved in the scheme were convicted and ordered to repay their prizes, the Colorado Lottery refused to award the full jackpot to Massihzadeh, saying he was locked into a contract when he signed the original ticket to claim his third of the jackpot.

Tommy Tipton, one of the other ticket holders, transferred his winning ticket to another person, and the third winning ticket went to Cuestion de Suerte LLC. Eddie Tipton, Tommy Tipton's brother, was a security director for the lottery in Iowa and had manipulated the computer program so that he would be able to predict winning numbers. They were caught in Iowa, found to have rigged lotteries in multiple states and ordered to pay restitution in Colorado, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Kansas.

That left Massihzadeh as the only legitimate winner in the Nov. 23, 2005, Colorado Lotto jackpot, which his attorneys said makes him the winner of the full prize. The state disagreed.

Massihzadeh sued in September 2017, but a Denver District Court judge agreed with the state and dismissed his claim in 2018 for "failure to state a claim for relief." So Massihzadeh and his attorneys appealed the decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

In April Massihzadeh appealed, but on Thursday, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court decision. In its published opinion, the court said a state statute makes it clear: The Colorado State Lottery Division is protected against any liability after the payment of any winnings.

"Based on the statute's plain language, the division concludes that the trial court properly dismissed the complaint because the payment of one-third of the jackpot and the defendant's acceptance thereof constituted "any prize," sufficient to discharge the Division of liability," Judge Daniel Taubman wrote in the unanimous opinion.

Massihzadeh accepted his winnings, but he didn't know about the fraudulent tickets at the time, and his attorneys argue that he was not paid out the correct prize, thereby negating the state's claim of no liability.

The Colorado Court of Appeals, however, said the statute refers to the payment of "any prize," and Massihzadeh received one.

"We're disappointed in the ruling and we're exploring our options," said attorney Trey Rogers, who represents Massihzadeh.

Robert Duncan, another one of Massihzadeh's attorneys, said he was disappointed in the decision and that he and his colleagues will have to decide whether it makes sense for their client to petition the Colorado Supreme Court to hear the case.

"Our job will be to ascertain how would this matter fit into the grand scheme of things in the Colorado Supreme Court and whether to ask or not (for a hearing)," he said.

Colorado Lottery Division representatives and officials from the Colorado Attorney General's Office declined to comment on the case.

Timeline of the biggest crime in US lottery history

The following is a compilation of Lottery Post news coverage chronicling the Hot Lotto mystery and subsequently discovered crime.

We start the timeline with a news story indicating that only 3 months remained for the $16 million Hot Lotto jackpot to be claimed.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

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39 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by Stack47.
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lejardin's avatar - Lottery-014.jpg

United States
Member #118605
November 4, 2011
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Posted: June 21, 2019, 8:50 am - IP Logged

This is absurd.  I hope the winner some way, some how prevails.

    Avatar
    Chasing $ Millions.
    White Shores- California
    United States
    Member #136473
    December 12, 2012
    6260 Posts
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    Posted: June 21, 2019, 9:07 am - IP Logged

    Iowa's Lucky Larry Dawson's case may suffer the same fate. Both were cut checks, and both claimed they were jipped out of millions. We shall see...

     * Voice of Reason *   

     

    People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

      Avatar
      Maryland
      United States
      Member #155449
      May 19, 2014
      33 Posts
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      Posted: June 21, 2019, 11:01 am - IP Logged

      They should appeal and file charges against the lottery for perpetuating the original fraud.

        KY Floyd's avatar - lysol avatar.jpg
        NY
        United States
        Member #23834
        October 16, 2005
        4250 Posts
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        Posted: June 21, 2019, 1:20 pm - IP Logged

        Anyone who's not a moron should understand that the only reason this guy won anything was because his numbers were fraudulently selected as the winning numbers.

        That means that the court reached the reasonable decision, but they got there the wrong way. The lottery and Massihzadeh both entered into the contract believing that the drawing, and therefore the winning and distribution of the prize, was fair. As we now know that belief was a mutual mistake, unless one of the parties knew at the time that the drawing hadn't been fair. It's a well-settled matter of contract law that mutual mistakes about a material issue make a contract voidable, and the belief that the drawing and subsequent awarding of the jackpot was fair is very clearly a material issue.

        "Iowa's Lucky Larry Dawson's case may suffer the same fate."

        Dawson's circumstances are different (Dawson won legitimately), but his case will be heard by a different court and he's presumably not using the same lawyers as Massihzadeh.  Like Massihzadeh, he and the lottery both entered into the prize contract in the mistaken belief that the previous win had been legitimate and that Dawson was receiving the correct prize amount.

          Avatar
          South Carolina
          United States
          Member #18321
          July 9, 2005
          1826 Posts
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          Posted: June 21, 2019, 2:03 pm - IP Logged

          Anyone who's not a moron should understand that the only reason this guy won anything was because his numbers were fraudulently selected as the winning numbers.

          That means that the court reached the reasonable decision, but they got there the wrong way. The lottery and Massihzadeh both entered into the contract believing that the drawing, and therefore the winning and distribution of the prize, was fair. As we now know that belief was a mutual mistake, unless one of the parties knew at the time that the drawing hadn't been fair. It's a well-settled matter of contract law that mutual mistakes about a material issue make a contract voidable, and the belief that the drawing and subsequent awarding of the jackpot was fair is very clearly a material issue.

          "Iowa's Lucky Larry Dawson's case may suffer the same fate."

          Dawson's circumstances are different (Dawson won legitimately), but his case will be heard by a different court and he's presumably not using the same lawyers as Massihzadeh.  Like Massihzadeh, he and the lottery both entered into the prize contract in the mistaken belief that the previous win had been legitimate and that Dawson was receiving the correct prize amount.

          If the Colorado drawing could have been fraudulent in the first case, due to the fraud perpetrated by Tipton, then Massihzadeh was not necessarily entitled to win anything in the first place [b/c the winning numbers would not have been chosen but for fraud], and he should be thankful for the prize that he was allowed to claim.

            rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
            Texas
            United States
            Member #55887
            October 23, 2007
            10187 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: June 21, 2019, 2:12 pm - IP Logged

            Well, that's total BS.

            Pay the man.

            CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

            A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

              Avatar
              Kentucky
              United States
              Member #32651
              February 14, 2006
              8928 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: June 21, 2019, 4:07 pm - IP Logged

              I'm a fan of claiming anonymously and/or creating a trust, but had Clifford Shaw been allowed to collect the jackpot prize on behalf of the Hexam Investments Trust, Massihzadeh, Dawson, nor Steve Bogle would know the drawings were rigged.

              Was looking at the "report card" in several states the only true lottery drawing they offer are multi jurisdiction games like MM and PB. The Dakotas get a "B" (80% true lottery) because they only have one state RNG drawn game. And there are 17 other lotteries getting a "C" or "D" with no state true lottery drawings.

              It's easy to understand why games like 5 Card Cash are RNGs drawings, probably 4 minute Keno and possibly All-or-Nothing too but after proving that RNG drawings can be rigged why are that many lotteries still using RNGs drawings?

                Avatar
                Kentucky
                United States
                Member #32651
                February 14, 2006
                8928 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: June 21, 2019, 4:25 pm - IP Logged

                Anyone who's not a moron should understand that the only reason this guy won anything was because his numbers were fraudulently selected as the winning numbers.

                That means that the court reached the reasonable decision, but they got there the wrong way. The lottery and Massihzadeh both entered into the contract believing that the drawing, and therefore the winning and distribution of the prize, was fair. As we now know that belief was a mutual mistake, unless one of the parties knew at the time that the drawing hadn't been fair. It's a well-settled matter of contract law that mutual mistakes about a material issue make a contract voidable, and the belief that the drawing and subsequent awarding of the jackpot was fair is very clearly a material issue.

                "Iowa's Lucky Larry Dawson's case may suffer the same fate."

                Dawson's circumstances are different (Dawson won legitimately), but his case will be heard by a different court and he's presumably not using the same lawyers as Massihzadeh.  Like Massihzadeh, he and the lottery both entered into the prize contract in the mistaken belief that the previous win had been legitimate and that Dawson was receiving the correct prize amount.

                "Dawson's circumstances are different"

                Indeed and more so because Dawson claimed and collected his prize before Tipton's ticket expired. Should make for an interesting discussion next year.

                Just a thought, but maybe Tipton hoped there would be multiple winning tickets on the drawing he rigged making collecting the winnings easier for Shaw and the trust. The fact they waited until the last minute using Shaw to collect for the trust makes one wonder how many other plans on how to collect or to let it go they discussed.

                  Avatar
                  New York
                  United States
                  Member #103596
                  January 4, 2011
                  6360 Posts
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                  Posted: June 21, 2019, 4:33 pm - IP Logged

                  Anyone who's not a moron should understand that the only reason this guy won anything was because his numbers were fraudulently selected as the winning numbers.

                  That means that the court reached the reasonable decision, but they got there the wrong way. The lottery and Massihzadeh both entered into the contract believing that the drawing, and therefore the winning and distribution of the prize, was fair. As we now know that belief was a mutual mistake, unless one of the parties knew at the time that the drawing hadn't been fair. It's a well-settled matter of contract law that mutual mistakes about a material issue make a contract voidable, and the belief that the drawing and subsequent awarding of the jackpot was fair is very clearly a material issue.

                  "Iowa's Lucky Larry Dawson's case may suffer the same fate."

                  Dawson's circumstances are different (Dawson won legitimately), but his case will be heard by a different court and he's presumably not using the same lawyers as Massihzadeh.  Like Massihzadeh, he and the lottery both entered into the prize contract in the mistaken belief that the previous win had been legitimate and that Dawson was receiving the correct prize amount.

                  I'm not a moron and I disagree with your premise that the only reason he won is because Tipton rigged the drawing. What we do know is the drawing was rigged; what we don't know is what the winning numbers would have been if it was not rigged- despite overwhelming odds against it, there is still a possibility that Massihzadeh's numbers would have been drawn on that drawing and he would have been the sole winner given the other tickets were fraudulent.

                    Avatar
                    Simpsonville
                    United States
                    Member #163184
                    January 22, 2015
                    2225 Posts
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                    Posted: June 21, 2019, 4:37 pm - IP Logged

                    This whole thing makes me think of Rhett Butler in the end of 'Gone with the Wind'.   My sentiments exactly.

                      Avatar
                      Chasing $ Millions.
                      White Shores- California
                      United States
                      Member #136473
                      December 12, 2012
                      6260 Posts
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                      Posted: June 21, 2019, 5:10 pm - IP Logged

                      Amir had better weigh his options, the longer he had these attorneys, the deeper they going to dig into his finances. The guy is 0-2, going to the State Supreme Court may not be “ 3rd time is a charm.” Dawson and Amir’s cases are different, but l still think Dawson has a semi uphill battle in getting paid out in millions more. Has anyone ever successfully sued a State lottery & won? Just asking.

                       * Voice of Reason *   

                       

                      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

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                        Simpsonville
                        United States
                        Member #163184
                        January 22, 2015
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                        Posted: June 21, 2019, 5:39 pm - IP Logged

                        Amir had better weigh his options, the longer he had these attorneys, the deeper they going to dig into his finances. The guy is 0-2, going to the State Supreme Court may not be “ 3rd time is a charm.” Dawson and Amir’s cases are different, but l still think Dawson has a semi uphill battle in getting paid out in millions more. Has anyone ever successfully sued a State lottery & won? Just asking.

                        noise-gate, correct me if I'm wrong.  Didn't your state lottery pay out millions to someone who could not produce the winning ticket?  That still irks me somewhat to this day.  Not sure if it was a lawsuit or not.

                          Artist77's avatar - batman14

                          United States
                          Member #121741
                          January 16, 2012
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                          Posted: June 21, 2019, 6:20 pm - IP Logged

                          They should appeal and file charges against the lottery for perpetuating the original fraud.

                          I agree 110%. When he signed the claim forms, he did not have full knowledge. You cannot waive  what you didn't know at the time nor was it forseeable.

                          Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grace.  We will rebuild!

                            Avatar
                            Chasing $ Millions.
                            White Shores- California
                            United States
                            Member #136473
                            December 12, 2012
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                            Posted: June 21, 2019, 6:47 pm - IP Logged

                            noise-gate, correct me if I'm wrong.  Didn't your state lottery pay out millions to someone who could not produce the winning ticket?  That still irks me somewhat to this day.  Not sure if it was a lawsuit or not.

                            l read about that situation here on LP BD, only after those CA lottery security guys were let go. Those guys had said that against their better judgment, the CA lottery paid a substantial amount to a player who did not produce a ticket. l have no idea how much that payout was for & did not research the thing. What l do know is that they refused to pay a guy who could not produce the winning ticket, although they agreed that it was him purchasing the ticket after reviewing surveillance footage. Double standards if you ask me.

                            The only way that happens, is probably if the governor is your Uncle or you have footage of a senior member of the lottery commission caught with a hooker behind a dumpster after midnight.

                             * Voice of Reason *   

                             

                            People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.