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Magic Lottery Ticket

Untraceable anonymous cash payments
  [vote for,

I'm sure that some of the more shadowy corners of government occasionally feel the need to pay people anonymously, in cash, and with no means for the payment to be traced back to themselves.

It might even be convenient for their purposes if the payee could appear to all outside observers as someone who was merely incredibly lucky, perhaps describing themselves as a "professional gambler".

After the draw is complete, a fake lottery ticket is printed and entered onto the system as a winner. The ticket is indistinguishable from a real one, because it is printed with a plausible set of numbers which would have won the claimed prize. The recipient then claims to have bought the ticket legitimately, and goes through the standard process to collect his "winnings".

This doesn't have to imply any rigging of the lottery itself - it can operate entirely in parallel, using the genuine lottery purely as a place to hide.

Wrongfellow, Jan 27 2014


       Alternately a thief launders millions of dollars by buying millions of lottery tickets for a single draw. He loses, but he steals the winnings from the winner, taking back what's wrongfully his. He repeats the scam until he officially wins.
rcarty, Jan 27 2014

       What if there are other winners and the prize needs to be split?
the porpoise, Jan 27 2014

       How do you know this is not already well-established practice?
pocmloc, Jan 27 2014

       //What if there are other winners and the prize needs to be split?//   

       I'm guessing, given the fact that this isn't supposed to bias the outcome of the actual lottery, that it is focused on payouts of the secondary prizes, which in most lotteries I'm aware of are fixed amounts rather than a share of the prize.   

       Given that most un-won jackpots carry over, any attempt to do this through the jackpot would affect the actual lottery.
MechE, Jan 27 2014

       "Hey, I don't remember buying a ticket for an all expenses paid trip to Fhloston Paradise!"   

       Yes, I'm thinking of the smaller prizes. I tried to avoid going into specifics, but I'm most familiar with the UK National Lottery, where prizes up to £500 can be claimed in the shop, and prizes up to £50,000 can be claimed in the post office.   

       It seems to me it could be quite hard to distinguish between "I just won the lottery" versus "I just got paid by the government via the same terminal".   

       To make it more foolproof, have the intended recipient go into a shop and buy a genuine ticket just before the draw. Immediately afterwards, swap it for the real one. Then the recipient returns to the same shop to collect the prize - thus appearing entirely legitimate to any CCTV cameras that might be watching.   

       Also I have no idea what machinations would be needed to make this invisible on the accounting / auditing side.
Wrongfellow, Jan 27 2014

       If the government wants to secretly give someone a large amount of cash, why not just secretly give them a large amount of cash?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 27 2014

       That doesn't involve the compelling mystique of the lottery.
rcarty, Jan 27 2014

       // If the government wants to secretly give someone a large amount of cash, why not just secretly give them a large amount of cash. //   

       When two people (or two government agencies) know a secret, it is no longer a secret. This allows the NSA to pay without alerting anyone in the IRS. Presumably it's a lot easier for an enemy spy to infiltrate that organization, or the IRS may share data if the FBI gets a warrant (I'm not sure on those rules). If this system where set up correctly, a high level official could cause this payout to occur in such a way that one lottery official (with some high level security clearance) would know that such a payout was made, but would not know to whom. Presumably internally the NSA would have some accountability, but that would be based on code names or some such.   

       Unfortunately this would skew the lottery statistics somewhat. For accounting purposes, the NSA would "buy" the number of lottery tickets equivalent to the value of the winning ticket to avoid affecting the overall odds. This will however skew statitical research on how much people play the lottery.   

       I think it might be more effective to use a private non-gambling prize such as Publisher's Clearing House. I'm not sure if there's a UK equivalent.
scad mientist, Jan 27 2014

       [++++] to rcarty
pashute, Jan 30 2014

       //If the government wants to secretly give someone a large amount of cash, why not just secretly give them a large amount of cash?//   

       I think the idea is to also provide a plausible explanation as to the source of the cash.   

       Also, I couldn't help but notice that you used “government” as a singular collective noun here, despite the fact that in British English it's a plural noun—a true Britishman would have written “Iffe ye gouvernmounte want to…”. I'm afraid you've given yourself away: [MaxwellBuchanan] is, in fact… a Canadian.
ytk, Jan 30 2014

       hmmm, a quick search shows at least 5 Maxwell Buchanans in several provinces of Canada!
xandram, Jan 31 2014

       Is the cash purchase of a gift card anonymous ? It could be to a casino or the 7 / 11, if lottery tickets are required.
popbottle, Feb 01 2014


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