A British National Lottery winner has been charged with fraud following concerns about the validity of his ticket.
Edward Putman, 53, scooped a £2.5 (around R48.9 million) million jackpot in 2009 after a search was launched for the owner of an unclaimed ticket.
The life-changing sum was handed over after he produced the damaged ticket days before the end of a six-month deadline from the night of the draw.
National Lottery operator Camelot was subsequently fined £3million by the Gambling Commission for paying out on the claim.
An investigation by the watchdog found the winning ticket did not have a working bar code.
If the former builder is convicted he could be forced to repay the jackpot under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Putman has lived a life of luxury since the money was paid into his account almost a decade ago. He moved into a large £600 000 detached house with a garden and a fleet of cars in the upmarket village of Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.
He also spent more than £450 000 on a house in Hemel Hempstead for his partner Lita Stephens.
His brother Raymond, of Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, said in 2015: ‘He was absolutely skint and then suddenly he had millions.’
Putman’s former partner, Gail, who took his surname while they were together and had a son with him, claimed he had hidden the win from her – although it happened years after they split up. When his win became public years after the draw, she said: ‘I never knew he’d won the lottery, he never told me.’
Putman was arrested by Hertfordshire Police in 2015 on suspicion of causing fraud by false representation but was later released without charge.
It was previously reported Camelot had lost the ticket in question. The Gambling Commission has stated £2.5 million of the fine imposed on Camelot represented ‘the amount that would have been received by good causes had the prize claim not been paid’.
It said while it ‘could not be certain a fraud had taken place, it was more likely than not a fraudulent prize claim had been made and paid out’.
The winning ticket was bought in the Worcester or Malvern area. A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said yesterday: ‘A man has been charged after an investigation into an alleged lottery fraud.
‘Edward Putman was charged with fraud by false representation following an alleged fraudulent claim of a lottery prize.
‘The incident occurred in 2009 when a claim was made for an outstanding lottery prize. A lottery ticket was submitted and the prize of £2.5million was paid out. In 2015 an investigation was opened by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s serious fraud and cyber unit after evidence came to light that the claim was not genuine.’
Putman has been released on bail and is due to appear at St Albans magistrates’ court on October 16.
A Camelot spokesman said it was aware of the investigation but that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment further.