Imagine you have stolen debit card details and you used it to purchase a lottery ticket. That ticket suddenly turns out to yield a hefty £4 million ($5.3 million) payout. For two small-time crooks in the United Kingdom that is precisely what happened.
The two men, Jon Watson of Bolton, and Mark Goodram, who moved to London in 2019, managed to buy the winning card in Clapham, soon finding out that they had struck a jackpot. However, upon attempting to collect the prize, the pair revealed that none possessed a bank account.
So far, so good. The only drawback was that the lottery knew that the ticket had been purchased via a debit card, which begged the question of where and how the two men had the debit card if they did not own an associated bank account with it. As it turned out, they had come in possession of the debit card info of a victim they did not know.
A Curious Sequence of Events
The two men were brought to court at the Bolton Crown Court where they owed up to having used the stolen information to make various purchases. According to the prosecutor, Goodram had the debit card info written down on his hand and use it to make purchases. One such involved spending £90 ($120) at a Londis store on Clapham High Street, and another £71 ($94) worth of goods.
Among those were five scratch tickets, one of which was the winner. One of the tickets yielded a nominal £10 ($13) prize right in the store, but the other one had to be collected via the National Lottery. Watson stepped up and decided to telephone at which point the lottery explained that any payments of that size would need to be made via a bank account.
Watson then argued that he did not possess a bank account. This quickly led to their arrest. While the original reporting by the BBC did not provide specific information about how long it took police authorities to apprehend the two culprits, the men have been both sentenced to 18 months in prison.
They have a formidable criminal record, with Watson sitting at 74 convictions for 143 criminal offenses followed by Goodram who is 22 for 45.
Not So Lucky After All
The prosecutor criticized Goodram and Watson’s behavior and argued that by acting fraudulently they had actually deprived a lucky customer of securing a win after them.
In the end, the pair of men could not secure the prize despite insisting to receive their money in cash, so they did their second mistake – they turned to tabloids.
The newspapers blew the story out of proportion and led to an unprecedented level of public scrutiny, and the eye of authorities who quickly untangled the incredulous explanations to actually be attempting to cover up for something underhand. And as irony would have it, the original owner of the debit card did not receive the prize – it had been forfeited.