Lottery vendor who was praised as a Good Samaritan for supposedly trying to find owner of £4m winning ticket is accused of ‘defrauding the rightful owner with the help of his lotto worker brother’
- Manuel Reija Gonzalez could face six years in prison if convicted of the charges
A Spanish lottery ticket seller faces being jailed for six years after being accused of defrauding the owner of a ticket worth £4.05million.
Manuel Reija Gonzalez was widely praised when he publicly tried to find the person who bought the winning ticket from him 11 years ago in the north-western city of A Coruna.
However, police now claim that the ticket vendor and his brother, who worked for the national lottery, of trying to cash in on the ticket for themselves, the Guardian reports.
It is claimed that Reija tried to collect the winnings on five separate occasions but was refused every single time by the lottery authorities.
Reija has since been charged with fraud, while his brother has been charged with money laundering – which also carries a six-year sentence. Both brothers deny the charges.
Manuel Reija Gonzalez, pictured here in 2012 after claiming to have found the winning ticket, has now been charged with defrauding the person who bought it
While the defendant was being portrayed as a Good Samaritan in the press at the time in June 2012, lottery organisers became suspicious and launched an investigation to find the owner.
A total of 317 people from across Spain came forward to say they bought the ticket, but one by one, all of their claims were found to be false.
A judge then ordered police to investigate, with officers eventually finding the winner after tracking them through tickets bought using the same numbers in holiday destinations such as Mallorca and Costa del Sol, El Pais reports.
With the help of Imserso, a branch of the Spanish government that organises holidays for elderly people they found the winner, only to learn through his wife that he had died in 2014.
Prosecutors allege that the ticket seller tricked the man by giving him a smaller prize than he was entitled to when he went to check his numbers.
They have said the money should be given to the widow and daughter of the man who bought the ticket.
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