Winnings so improbable crime may be the explanation

More than 600,000 people have won lottery games since 1993. The Post took a look at those who cashed in tickets the most often — an examination the lottery doesn't do – and found something interesting: People winning over and over again against all odds - What is the explanation? Should the lottery be watching this? Heck yeah. These patterns could mean that crimes are being committed.

RESULTS OF POST INVESTIGATION AND ONGOING COVERAGE

 

Raided lottery store laundered money for the mob

One market, whose owner was implicated in a lottery-ticket cashing scheme, saw hundreds of thousands of dollars washed clean for big-league criminals. Yet it’s operating its check-cashing business today.

Lottery shuts down 18 outlets
in wake of PB Post probe

The day after The Post’s first story on impossible and improbable winnings by lottery retailers and others, the Florida lottery launched an investigation. It started tracking the winningest operators, something it hadn't done before.

Top winner admits he cashed in
lottery tickets for a fee

Louis Tillman Johnson tells lottery investigators that what looked like impossible winnings was really a ticket-cashing scheme involving store owners and others. AND in 2011, he actually called the lottery to turn in one of the owners, but the lottery didn’t believe him and did little investigating.

Lottery watchdog accused as cop in home invasion

The lottery’s inspector general was fired from the Miami-Dade police department in 1984 for being a "participant in a home invasion robbery." His firing was overturn but more than 500 pages of police records obtained by The Post reveal that detectives, supervisors, the head of the police department and prosecutors were convinced that he participated.

Lottery machines seized in Florida

Three days after the project was printed, lottery officials take away machines at three convenience stores where the top winner identified by The Post had gotten multiple winning tickets. Six weeks later, the lottery suspends sales at eleven more stores.

Lottery begins safeguards in response to Post story

Two days after The Post's investigative project was printed, Florida's Lottery announces safeguards to prevent fraud – watching for frequent winners, announcing stores where clerks stole winning tickets and installing more self-scanning terminals.

CMGd Single Player
Biggest winner

We found our most prolific winner – 252 tickets totaling $719,000 – sitting on the front porch of his 1,200-square-foot rental home.

Play 4 fantasy

How did one person hit the Play 4 game 568 times, collecting more than $2.8 million — in just 15 months? A bookish Hollywood engineer shares his secret.

Higher math?

Think about it. Would you spend $2.8 million to win $343,000? Our mathematicians outline the absurdity.

How we got the story

How a story about a flaw in scratch-off games led investigative reporter Lawrence Mower (right) and data expert Fedor Zarkhin to dig deeper into the Florida Lottery's numbers.