Woman who claimed $73m winning lottery ticket went through the wash ruled out from prize
It could have been her. But it's not.
A German woman who claimed she had won a £33 million (NZ$73 million) British lottery jackpot, but by accident put the ticket through the wash, is understood to have been ruled out from the prize.
Susanne Hinte, a 48-year-old grandmother, has submitted her crumpled and torn lottery ticket to Camelot, which runs Britain's National Lottery, for verification.
But it's understood that Camelot has already ruled her out as the mystery winner.
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The company's team of investigators, which includes former detectives and intelligence officers, has not even bothered to obtain CCTV footage from the newsagents where Hinte claims to have bought the winning ticket.
A senior security source said: "If Miss Hinte was even suspected of winning the lottery the first thing Camelot would have done is grab that CCTV footage. The footage is proof of where she bought the ticket and at what time."
A Camelot spokesman said "fewer than five" people in the organisation's security team knew where and at what time the winning ticket – with the numbers 26, 27, 46, 47, 52 and 58 – was bought.
The company has revealed it was bought in the Worcester area but refuses to say on what date and at which outlet.
Hinte bought her ticket, with the numbers displayed but the crucial barcode illegible and the date torn and missing, from Ambleside News in Worcester.
Hamsa Patel, who runs the newsagents said "We have the CCTV of the sale and we can give it to Camelot if they want to see it and she gives her permission. It'll show her buying it and the numbers."
But Camelot has declined the offer, in an indication the winning ticket was bought elsewhere in the city.
Hinte's claims were undermined further by the disclosure that she faces a trial on suspicion of theft. The offences are said to have taken place in January last year when Hinte is accused of stealing a handbag from a home by distracting the resident.
Vinny Bolina, spokesman for West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said yesterday: "We can confirm that Susanne Hinte has been charged with two counts of theft.
"She will appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on March 1."
Hinte, who came to Britain from Germany about 15 years ago, now finds herself at the centre of scrutiny. An acquaintance has claimed that Hinte had previously tried to cash in a Lotto scratchcard that had been dropped in a puddle. The claim was rejected by Camelot on that occasion.
The acquaintance told The Sun newspaper: "The episode does tell you a lot about her fantastical claims. I think [this time] she bought a later ticket after the day she says she had. She has sent the original version to Camelot. But she clams up when anyone tries to ask her about it."
It has also emerged Hinte had been summoned to court six times in the last six years over unpaid fines and has also been fined at another court hearing for failing to disclose the identity of a driver.
Hinte has insisted she put the ticket in her jeans' pocket and then inadvertently washed them, in the process obscuring the barcode and shredding the date.
She has since gone into hiding but has posted on Facebook: "Not once have I said I have the winning ticket. The ticket did have the winning numbers on it. Camelot will do the checks so as it stands nobody knows if it's the winner."
On a dating website, Hinte has described herself as a nurse who hopes to return to university to study for a degree in emergency hospital care allowing her to "qualifie" [sic] as a paramedic.
There is no Hinte identified on the Royal College of Nursing register.
On thee dating website, Hinte wrote:" Everyone deserves happyness in life so my outlook in life is tat if ur lucky enaugh to find it then u should hold on to it."
Hinte had one major supporter last night in Patel who was convinced her customer was telling the truth.
"It was the winning ticket. I believe she's won," said Patel, "The date and serial number were washed off it she was shaking with nerves when she came in with it. She comes in every week and buys lucky dips."
The holder of the missing ticket is entitled to half of the £66 million jackpot, the largest ever won on the National Lottery. The other winning ticket has already been claimed.
Under National Lottery rules, people with winning tickets have 180 days to come forward. Those without tickets have 30 days to lodge a claim in writing.
Only after 180 days can Camelot then consider awarding the money to a person without an actual ticket. Proof would include being able to tell Camelot exactly where and when a ticket was bought.
"We may look to review CCTV as part of the investigation," said the spokesman.
A security expert said CCTV was crucial in establishing who bought the ticket but mobile phone data could also play a large part in determining where a person was at the time a ticket was purchased.
The Camelot press officer said of the several hundred millionaires created by the National Lottery who have agreed have their win be made public, not a single one had received the money without the physical ticket.
- The Telegraph