Camelot warns against fraud bid over £33m Lotto jackpot
Lottery bosses have warned they will take action against people who try to con them out of a massive £33 million jackpot.
Hundreds of people have come forward claiming to have a lost, damaged or stolen ticket with the six winning numbers, including grandmother Susanne Hinte, who said she put hers through the wash.
Camelot said it was considering each claim on a "case-by-case basis" after confirming the winning ticket was bought in Worcester.
But the lottery operator warned it would act if it 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."
Ms Hinte, 48, from Worcester, reportedly made contact with Camelot advisers on Friday, claiming her winning ticket no longer had a readable date or barcode.
Under the terms of its licence, Camelot has discretion to pay prizes in respect of stolen, lost or destroyed tickets if a player has submitted a claim in writing within 30 days of the draw.
Camelot has said that even if a winner with a stolen, lost or damaged ticket is identified, 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 operator added.
Camelot said it had not released details of the shop where the winning ticket was bought and no retailer had been informed that they sold the winning ticket.
A spokeswoman said: "We would only release details of the shop if we received a valid claim and the ticket-holder subsequently took publicity. We still would urge all players to check their tickets and contact us if they think they have the winning one."
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.
The six winning numbers from the January 9 draw were 26, 27, 46, 47, 52 and 58.