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The Crook, The Thief, His Wife & The Other €35.5 Million

le Tabac
Last week the Tabac (Tobacco shop) where I buy my newspaper here in the 15th Arrondissement, Paris was closed. "That's funny"...I thought..."they must have gone on holidays". As it happens they weren't on holidays at all but on garde à vue - in Police Custody.

Turns out the husband and wife tobacconists (57 year old Reggie and Brigitte) and an unemployed partner-in-crime had cheated a customer out of a €35.5m win on the EuroMillions lottery last month.

The shopkeepers did the old switcheroo - they told the customer, a 30-year-old accountant, that his tickets were all losers. In fact, two of them, with exactly the same permutation of numbers, had won the weekly jackpot.

The tobacconists pretended to bin the tickets. A few days later, they asked the unemployed Bozo to pose as the winner in return for a €1.5m cut. He successfully claimed the prize but his bank grew suspicious when he transferred most of the money to another account (presumably the Tabac-owner's).

The French national lottery company, La Française des Jeux, asked for an investigation by Les Flics - in this case the Renseignements Généraux (RG) - the Internal Security Service which also polices gaming.

The RG studied the pattern of EuroMillions tickets bought at the Tabac in the appropriately-named Rue des Entrepreneurs. And lo and behold they discovered the winning numbers had been played regularly before the big win on 11 May - but also afterwards. "That's funny" they thought. "Why would somebody keep playing the same numbers after just winning Thirty Five Big Ones?"

So the shopkeepers and their dole-bludging mate were arrested and put on the rack. They denied everything until the boiling oil was applied. (I made that bit up but they did confess)

The Tabac is back open but I notice there are different people behind the counter. Reggie, his Missus and the mate are out on bail after being charged with "conspiracy to commit fraud". The winner, who's publicity-shy, had no idea he was a millionaire until the Police called - "Monsieur...we have Good News and Bad News...the good news is that you've won €35.5 on Euromillions. The bad news is that you can't have it right now".

The dopey Tabac owners admitted there had been a huge win on tickets bought from them. Reggie even gave television interviews in which he said: "If I won that much, I would close the shop tomorrow and complete my chalet in Savoie". Why didn't he just do a runner? is what I'm thinking.

He, his Missus, and the financial-genius mate now face up to 10 years in the nick - plenty of time to draw up new plans for the Chalet in the Alps.

By the way...I bet Les Flics said to unemployed Matey "Look you're going down for this with the others...but don't you think it a bit unfair that you're gonna do the same time even though they probably screwed you out of an equal share - what was your cut by the way?" At least that's how it would have gone down on Maigret.

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Reader Comments (10)

In Illinois, USA, you can self-check your lottery tickets at a scanner that the retailer usually has at the front counter.
July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Yeah I've always thought the French system was a bit dodgey - I play Euromillions every week. Costs me €10 - about $10.
July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterML
Hi there, from Paris XV/rue de l'eglise...

Wally, you need to pinpoint the fact that normal people take their lottery ticket when playing; this one 'winner' was trusting the tobacconist to play on behalf of him...
conclusion : do not trust anyone except yourself about your money, even if it's only potential lottery winning ticket... ;)
July 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterZeugma
"Normally" you get the ticket back.
July 6, 2007 | Registered CommenterMalcolm Lambe
Why in God's name would someone by two identical lottery tickets? Does the French lottery allow you to double your jackpot winnings if you match all of the numbers on two different tickets? If you did that on Superlotto Plus or Mega Millions, you'd just be sharing the jackpot with yourself.
July 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJustin
@ Justin. No...if there are two winners of the Top Prize they share it. So this guy would have got the same amount whether he had one or two tickets - "sharing the Jackpot with himself". Why did he have two? Sounds like he put in several tickets. And perhaps he forgot what numbers he had.
July 7, 2007 | Registered CommenterMalcolm Lambe
This is a great story item. Right now as we speak a significant amount of winning is taking place on the part of those entrusted with the lottery terminals, usually small store owners (or their relatives) in contrast to non-store owners. Whether by accident or design I hardly ever buy my tickets where they end up being checked. At first it was just a pain but now I force myself to do it. In the end the accountant winner is twice lucky I suppose.
July 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCraig
@ Craig. I play every week and I check the results online but when I give the shopkeeper the tickets he usually gives them back to me. This guy above was playing the same numbers week after week so I guess Monsieur Reggie got to know what they were. I won a whopping €9.70 yesterday. /:-)
July 7, 2007 | Registered CommenterMalcolm Lambe
Similar thing happend in Sydney last year but it was an employee of the newsagency who made off with the dosh - about $500k - and hasn't been seen since. It took a court case to make the Lotto people cough up to the rightful owners.
July 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMichael D
I've always worried when asking the shop keepers to check my tickets. My mum said the machine makes a noise when one wins but I knew she was talking shite!
May 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnt

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