Shop worker Farrakh Nizzar jailed for £1m lottery scam bid

 

A shop worker has been jailed for 30 months for trying to claim a winning £1 million lottery ticket belonging to a pensioner couple.

Farrakh Nizzar, 30, told Maureen Holt her EuroMillions ticket was a loser - and asked her if she wanted the ticket back.

Mrs Holt, 78, and her husband Fred, 80, who knew Nizzar by his nickname of "Lucky", told him to bin the worthless ticket.

In fact when Nizzar had scanned the ticket at his cousin's Best One shop in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where he worked, the terminal told him the holder should contact Camelot.

Nizzar, an illegal over-stayer in the UK who is due to be deported to Pakistan, kept the ticket and later called the lottery company himself in an attempt to keep the prize.

But the firm became suspicious when he was unable to answer questions about the winning ticket.

Camelot checked CCTV and traced the rightful owners of the ticket using Mr Holt's Tesco Clubcard to unite the couple with their £1 million prize.

Nizzar pleaded guilty last month to one charge of fraud by false representation committed on May 31 this year.

He bowed his head and made no reaction as he was jailed at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester.

Passing sentence, Recorder Philip Cattan told the defendant: "This goes to the heart of public confidence in the National Lottery.

"The courts must demonstrate to you and to others that this type of fraud will be met by significant custody."

Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, told the court that on June 21 this year, Mrs Holt and her husband, a retired Royal Navy engineer, completed their weekly shop at Tesco Extra in Oldham.

As was their routine, Mr Holt paid for the groceries and used his Tesco Clubcard and Mrs Holt went to the kiosk to get their lottery tickets - including one for the following Friday's EuroMillions draw.

The next day the couple flew to Spain for a week to celebrate Mr Holt's 80th birthday.

When they returned, Mrs Holt went to their local convenience store, Best One in Watersheddings, Oldham, where Nizzar worked, on June 30.

Mr Wilcock told the court: "While there she got the tickets checked by this defendant, who was known to them by the nickname Lucky.

"She thought he was a really nice man, nice in all ways.

"She asked him to check the lottery tickets. Lucky told her she had not won."

In fact, after scanning the EuroMillions ticket, the terminal had notified Nizzar that the ticket was a winner with the message to contact Camelot directly.

Mrs Holt bought some more tickets for the next draw, left the shop and "thought no more about it", Mr Wilcock said.

"This defendant had in fact contacted Camelot to say he had won a prize."

But Nizzar was unable to answer questions about how and where he bought the ticket - and Camelot launched an investigation.

The winning ticket was traced as having been bought at the Tesco Extra in Oldham.

The computer record of Mr Holt using his Tesco Clubcard while paying for the couple's weekly shop was traced and the time of the purchase used to check the store's CCTV footage - showing Mrs Holt on camera.

"That was how they were able to establish how they bought the winning ticket," the prosecutor added.

Camelot then confronted Nizzar with the evidence - who then "looked at the floor for some time" but claimed it was his ticket and blamed his "bad memory". He was arrested by police on July 29 and pleaded guilty at Oldham Magistrates' Court last month.

Carolyn Smith, mitigating, said Nizzar came to the UK in 2007 on a student visa and completed a postgraduate diploma in business studies.

But his student visa ran out, he was refused leave to remain in the UK and exhausted all his rights to appeal.

As an "over-stayer" he had no rights to work or claim benefits and was faced with "irresistible temptation" to claim the winning ticket himself.

He has since written a letter of apology to Mr and Mrs Holt, the court was told.

Miss Smith added: "This offence was the very definition of opportunistic.

"When the machine indicated the ticket holder should contact Camelot he would have realised that was a winning ticket for a significant amount.

"Clearly this was a split second decision to keep it and tell Mrs Holt she had not won."

After the case a statement from Mr and Mrs Holt said: "We are glad that justice has been done and that this matter is now behind us.

"We can now look forward to enjoying our lottery win and spending some time with our family and friends. We understand the defendant has written a letter to us and we look forward to reading this."

The lottery terminal at the Best One shop where Nizzar worked has been removed and the shop is no longer licensed to sell tickets.

Camelot said in a statement: "We expect each and every one of our retailers to act as an advocate for, and uphold the values of, the National Lottery.

"Where we believe unlawful activity has taken place, we will not hesitate to report the matter to the appropriate enforcement body - in this case Greater Manchester Police - and assist it in any investigation.

"We have stringent operations in place to prevent and detect fraud and to monitor suspicious activity.

"Indeed, the robustness of our investigation and the strength of evidence we provided in the case of Farrakh Nizzar resulted in him pleading guilty to the charge he faced."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own