The saying goes that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery.
One man allegedly tried to improve his odds by hacking the lottery and assuring himself a $14.3 million windfall.
That’s what prosecutors in Iowa say a former lottery information-security director did to score a ticket worth millions. The director, Eddie Raymond Tipton, apparently then shuffled his hacked earnings between different people and holding firms, including an investment company in Belize, The Des Moines Register reports.
Heck, throw in an edgy lead and some 90’s techno and you’ve got yourself a readymade popcorn flick.
According to prosecutors, Tipton accessed the lottery’s random number generating room on Nov. 20, 2010, and inserted a USB drive into the computer the lottery uses to choose numbers. The prosecution claims that the drive was loaded with a rootkit, a special program designed to complete a task and then destroy itself.
He then allegedly bought his winning ticket a month later.
Tipton’s attorney’s however, say he couldn’t have accessed the room.
According to the Reigster, Tipton’s lawyers say that their client couldn’t have hacked the lottery system, as the random number generating room is locked and monitored via video camera. What’s more, the defence claims Tipton was in another state when the $14.3 million ticket was purchased.
And here’s where everything starts to sound like a spy movie.
The prosecutors say that Tipton did in fact go into the random number generating room, as he was one of five people able to access it.
They also say that the cameras trained on the room that day were tampered with. Instead of continuously recording the room, they were set on a time delay that only captured one second of footage every minute.
Prosecutors also say that despite the defences claims that Tipton was out of state when the winning ticket was purchased, records indicate that his cell phone was used in Iowa when the ticket was bought.
It gets even crazier. The ticket was reportedly held for nearly a year, and hours before it was to expire, a company out of Belize tried to cash it through a New York-based attorney. The lottery officials wouldn’t cash the ticket, though, because the individuals running the Belize company wouldn’t give their names.
There don’t seem to be any other reports of individuals hacking lottery systems to turn up winning numbers. People have, however, been able to crack scratch off lottery games by finding patterns in how they are produced.
According to Wired, a statistician who studied at MIT and Stanford University was able to uncover the pattern to a scratch off lottery game used by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Instead of abusing his knowledge, though, the statistician, Mohan Srivastava, brought his findings to the attention of the gaming corporation, which pulled the scratch off ticket from store shelves.
As for Tipton, he is charged with two counts of fraud, and if convicted could face up to 5 years in jail and an up to $7,500 fine. You can probably expect a book on the case to be released shortly thereafter. As for the movie: David Fincher would be great for this project, thanks.