The grandmother who reportedly put her Lottery ticket bearing the winning numbers through the wash has not been ruled out of the £33 million jackpot, according to Camelot.
The 48-year-old had allegedly rushed into her local newsagent in Worcester on Friday with a crumpled piece of paper she believed featured the winning combination of numbers.
According to the Telegraph, Miss Hinte had been “ruled out” and the Lottery’s team of investigators had not obtained CCTV footage from the newsagents where Miss Hinte claims to have bought the winning ticket – despite numerous offers from the shopkeeper Hamsa Patel.
A spokesperson for Camelot, however, told the Independent that the claims in the Telegraph were “purely speculative” and that lottery chiefs have “not ruled anyone out publicly”.
The Sun, which claims to have received a photo copy of Ms Hinte’s ticket, has reported that the date, bar code, serial number and millionaire raffle number had all been washed off.
Camelot has repeatedly refused to comment on the case but on Tuesday they admitted that they had received “hundreds” of claims. They added that all of the claims – whether of lost, stolen or damaged tickets – are being considered on case-by-case basis.
Lottery bosses have previously warned they will take action if they believed someone had “intentionally attempted to defraud the National Lottery”.
A Camelot spokeswoman said: "With prizes of this size, it's perfectly normal to receive lots of claims from people who genuinely think that they may have mislaid or thrown away what they believe was the winning ticket…that's what we're seeing now - and we are looking into all of these claims as part of our efforts to find the rightful ticket-holder.
"However, if we believe that somebody has intentionally attempted to defraud the National Lottery, then, just like any other company, we reserve the right to take whatever action we consider is appropriate."
John Plimmer, a former detective at West Midlands Police, said anyone caught making a fraudulent claim could face jail. He told the Mirror: "If there is evidence someone deliberately tried to con Camelot to get their hands on £33 million then obviously that's a crime.
"They wouldn't have to successfully claim the money to be found guilty. Anyone convicted could be looking at a heavy custodial sentence."
Camelot has said that even if a winner is identified from the “hundreds” of claims, the money will not be paid out for at least 180 days so others can get in touch. If the Worcester prize goes unclaimed after a deadline of July 7, the money will be donated to good causes. The lottery bosses have also repeatedly refused to reveal the details of the shop where the winning ticket was bought.
Married couple David and Carol Martin, both 54, from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, won the other half of the £66 million jackpot, the UK's biggest Lotto prize.
Nick Scott, a roofer and Ms Hinte’s estranged husband, said earlier this week that he was praying that she had won but added: “I have to say it sounds too good to be true.”
He told the Sun that he and Miss Hinte were married for a decade but never divorced after separating. “I’m hoping and praying she’s the winner. Technically I could put a claim in for half. But she’s already told me she’ll look after me and the kids.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he added.
Additional reporting by PA
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