Lottery scam mastermind who rigged draws to pocket millions released from prison

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A crafty fraudster who won millions in jackpot prizes after he rigged lottery computers has been released from prison after four-and-a-half years.

Eddie Tipton used his position as information security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) in Iowa, United States to install rogue computer code on machines that helped him predict numbers for upcoming draws across the USA.

The scheme, which came to be known across America 'Hot Lotto fraud scandal', saw him secure wins for his friends and family as well as himself in five different states, according to the Kansas Reflector.

His system worked by fixing draw software to produce certain numbers when they were held on three specific days of the year.

Tipton was caught after officials at the lottery raised the alarm about a win on a $16,500,000 (£12,299,842) jackpot on the Hot Lotto draw in December 2010.

His friend Philip Johnson had made a claim in November 2011, but told the operator that he was too ill to collect the prize in person.

A few weeks later, he changed his story to say that the winning ticket had in fact been bought by Hexham Investments Trust, a shell company based in Belize which listed Johnston as its owner.

Hot Lotto rejected the claim due to it being anonymous — but its investigation into the firm began the unravelling of the entire plot, and eventually led back to Tipton

CCTV footage from a Des Moines convenience store released in 2014 showed a man later identified as Tipton purchasing the ticket, which is illegal for a MUSL employee.

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He was arrested in January the following year, and was handed a sentence of no more than 25 years in prison in 2017 after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud in an Iowa court.

Tipton was also ordered to repay $2,000,000 in prize money from lotteries in Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma,

A confession in court saw him tell the judge that he "wrote software that included code that allowed me to understand or technically predict winning numbers", and "gave those numbers to other individuals who then won the lottery and shared the winnings with me."

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However, he is now making a claim through the courts that his guilty plea was registered under duress, and is also arguing that Iowa had no jurisdiction to claim back money won in other states. A trial will be held on August 17.

Tipton's release on parole was approved this week.

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