One of the cool things about the Missouri lottery program is that they publish all scratchers winners of $1,000 or more on their website. My students from a recent Fraud Examination class applied some basic fraud detection analytics to the data and they found some interesting trends:
The most obvious trend among all Missouri scratchers winners was with John Doe #1. In the 21 months of data, this person redeemed 15 winning scratchers tickets of $1,000 or more, for total winnings of $27,000.
Playing the Odds: Missouri publishes the odds of winning each game on their website. Calculations show that a person playing the odds would need to buy roughly 37,000 scratchers tickets in $20 denominations ($20 games have the highest frequency of $1,000 winning tickets) to guarantee themselves 15 winning scratchers of the $1,000 denomination. This would cost the person about $752,000 (vs. the $27,000 actually won). Interestingly enough, at three minutes per ticket, it would take about 77 days to scratch them all off!
Luck: If winning at this regularity is due to a ‘lucky streak’ then, at 21 months and counting, it is surely a great lucky streak! Who knows, it might even be enough to question the process of evenly distributing winning tickets throughout the state?
Of course, the worst case scenario would be a scheme in which a person has discovered a way to de-fraud the lottery scratchers program.
So – what do you think? Is it possible to de-fraud a scratchers lottery program? What could be done to prevent it?