Fraudulent National Lottery Winner Edward Putman
Though many of us might joke about finding a way to scam our way into a lottery win, most of us don’t actually attempt to go through with it. While we love the idea of winning millions, we certainly don’t love the idea of being put behind bars. Some people aren’t as fearful, however, as can be seen in the case of National Lottery winner Edward Putman.
Cheating the System
After the March 11, 2009, UK Lotto drawing took place, no one immediately stepped forward to claim the prize. This inspired Hertfordshire resident Edward Putman to figure out a way to scam the system, and nearly six months after the drawing on August 28, he turned in a winning ticket and instantly became £2.5 million richer. There was nothing that seemed out of the ordinary about the situation.
As far as lottery officials knew, he’d purchased the ticket in the Co-op at St. John’s Road in Worcester. The fact that he didn’t claim the winnings until just ten days before the six-month claim expiration is yet another reason why his story was believable at the time. In good faith, Camelot verified that his ticket was legitimate and awarded Putman the large prize. Unfortunately for those involved, it was eventually revealed that the winner was actually a fraud.
As it turned out, Putman had recruited the help of his friend Giles Knibbs—a former employee of the lottery operator—to produce a forged National Lottery ticket after the winning numbers had been announced. That would later serve as an explanation as to why the scammer waited so long to claim the millions. He needed a fraudulent ticket before he could do anything, and luckily for Putman, Knibbs had committed to finding a way to cheat the system not long before this incident. Had things not gone awry, the partners in crime likely would’ve gotten away with their scam. But, just like with disgraced TV host and lottery scammer Nick Perry, it’s always just a matter of time before the truth comes out.
How Did the Pair Do It?
Giles Knibbs began concocting his master plan after assessing documents that contained details regarding unclaimed winnings. Ironically, his job at Camelot required him to detect instances of fraudulent claims, so he was something of an expert in this department. Realising he could potentially succeed in falsely claiming millions, he began to produce several forged tickets, each containing different unique codes.
While Putman was certainly involved with the initial phases of planning, his main role was a bit more direct. He went to nearly 30 stores to check the different tickets and figure out which one would actually scan in as a winner. Eventually, after finding the ticket that contained the appropriate numbers, he took it to a shop in High Wycombe to submit the correct code. Despite the barcode being only partially visible, Putman was still able to collect the jackpot winnings from Camelot, which had already been fined in the past for ignoring fraudulent activity.
A Fraudsters’ Quarrel
Despite the scam being a massive success, things didn’t go exactly as planned for the scammers. Initially, Putman had promised Knibbs a fair split of the winnings. Unbeknownst to Knibbs, this promise would become void once Putman actually had the money in his pocket. As should have been expected, Knibbs had a negative reaction to this. After all, he committed the crime under the impression that he would walk away from it at least £1 million richer. Soon enough, it became clear that this would not be the case—Putman wanted to keep most of the money for himself, to the point that his first payout to Knibbs was only £280,000. He then started to pay in smaller increments, which only amounted to £50,000 over time. In the end, the total Knibbs received was nowhere near the amount he was owed.
Unsurprisingly, this led to a heated dispute between the two in 2015. During the quarrel, Knibbs vandalised Putman’s car and even stole his phone in the process. This angry behaviour didn’t surprise the people who knew this scammer, as his mental health had been spiralling since Putman cheated him out of what he considered to be rightfully his—to the point that the former lottery worker even confessed his crimes to close friends and family.
Knibbs was later arrested for criminal damage, blackmail, and burglary after Putman pressed charges. Sadly, he committed suicide that October to avoid a potential prison sentence over his spat with Putman.
Not long after Giles Knibbs’s death, Edward Putman’s crimes quickly surfaced and became public knowledge, leading to his eventual arrest (though he would later be released due to a lack of evidence at that time). This didn’t mean he was off the hook, though. The faux winner became the subject of a thorough investigation. As a result, he was put on trial to receive proper sentencing in 2019—an incredible ten years after he’d claimed the jackpot.
During the trial, the prosecution revealed the details of how the master plan was executed. While it was proven that Knibbs was the mastermind behind the intricate scam, Putman’s involvement was undeniable—he had committed to finding the fake winning ticket and even claimed the winnings himself.
It was also proven in court that Giles Knibbs’s distress largely came from initiating a profitable scam only to be scammed himself by his own accomplice. After sharing the details of how Putman refused to properly split the winnings with Knibbs, the prosecution had ensured that the dispute would work against Putman in court. After all, the crime itself as well as the failure to fulfil a promise led to an unfortunate and untimely demise.
Though Putman initially denied his own guilt, the prosecutors couldn’t be convinced. Not only did they have rock-solid evidence against him, they also had proof that Putman wasn’t the most honest defendant. In fact, he already had a criminal record. In the 1990s, he received a seven-year prison sentence after being convicted of rape. Two decades later, in 2012, he received a nine-month sentence after fraudulently claiming housing and unemployment benefits during the three years after he claimed his winnings. Apparently, the lottery winnings—even after screwing over Knibbs—still weren’t enough for him.
While the judge on the case refused to allow the prosecution to share Putman’s criminal record with the jury, it was evident that they didn’t need it to convince the courts of his guilt. The public’s perception of him continuously changed as more facts came to light during the trial. The prosecution was able to fully sway the jury by providing evidence obtained from Putman’s phone and bank statements, as well as testimony from Knibb’s friends. After an expert examined the supplied documents and confirmed that Putman’s ticket was in fact fraudulent, Putman’s fate was locked in: guilty as charged. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, though he made it clear he had every intent to appeal the verdict.
Though there are certainly other lottery winners who have scammed their way into a win, such as the Chung family in Ontario, most of those claiming jackpots tend to be a bit more honest. It goes to show that winning the lottery is truly a matter of luck, and if we try to force that luck, the result probably won’t be taking a nice vacation on an island—a lengthy prison sentence is much more likely.