It is perhaps not the easiest way to make a million, but for Stefan Klincewicz, 45, a half-Polish accountant, it worked. His 28-strong syndicate purchased the winning ticket for the pounds 2.2m jackpot in the Irish lottery four years ago in a dramatic sting.
Mr Klincewicz devised the plot in a Dublin pub in 1990 in anticipation of a rollover jackpot, when the prize swells to record levels. As soon as it came up, his team of ticket buyers tore across Ireland.
Although Irish lottery chiefs recognised that sales had increased dramatically, and started to shut down terminals the day before the draw, the syndicate bought up 80 per cent of the total 1.94 million ticket number combinations.
Mr Klincewicz, who knows Stefan Mandel, head of the Australian syndicate allegedly considering a sting on the British lottery this week, said yesterday that he would not even attempt such an operation on this week's pounds 40m jackpot.
"It's incredibly risky. The problem from a statistical point of view is that there should be seven, eight or nine winners in Saturday night's draw," he said.
"The United Kingdom lottery has been designed to stop this sort of thing going on, so that even if you buy all the tickets, the risk is still enormous. Whereas with the Irish lottery, there was also a pounds 100 prize for matching four numbers which mean investors were always going to get a 75 per cent return."
After his coup, Mr Klince-wicz laid out the game-plan for the perfect lottery plot. First, the Irish syndicate raised the money to cover the tickets, and passed it on to a firm of accountants to bank. It then set up offices in a central location to co-ordinate the ticket-buying. Pay- slips were collected in batches from shops over a period of a week in an attempt to prevent a sudden influx. They were filled out at headquarters, and the syndicate started recruiting teams of ticket-buyers. "You don't advertise for people. You just get them by word of mouth," Mr Klincewicz said.
A selection of hotel rooms were then booked across the country, and the money for the tickets put into banks nearby. The job of getting tickets inputted then began and the syndicate lay bets of nearly pounds 900,000 in two days before it was stopped by officials. "You choose machines where you don't get in the way of other people who are buying tickets," Mr Klincewicz said.
The lottery organisers became suspicious when they noticed shops normally selling less than pounds 1,000 worth of tickets daily suddenly recording sales of pounds 15,000 in a morning.
Once the tickets were purchased they were taken back to the headquarters and kept in secure storage. "When you've got the ticket, you just sit back and enjoy the show," Mr Klincewicz said. But the biggest risk for any syndicate, is whether regular players will also have come up with the winning combination through luck.
Although Mr Klincewicz's syndicate - which included a barrister, business executives and a roof contractor - had the winning ticket, it was still forced to share it with another winner, leaving it with Irpounds 568,682, although it scooped another Irpounds 400,000 from mopping up secondary prizes.
Mr Klincewicz has subsequently set up a series of other syndicates from his parent company, that bears the logo "A chance to Dream".