Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 12:38 UK

Lottery warning after fraud case

Lottery balls
Mrs Stacey said she did not realise she had committed a crime

Lottery organisers have warned people to guard their tickets after a couple who found a £30,000 winning ticket and cashed it in were sentenced for fraud.

Amanda Stacey, 34, from Swindon, Wiltshire, reportedly found the prize ticket on the floor of her local Co-op.

She and her husband Michael reportedly spent some money on clearing debts.

The Staceys admitted charges of making a false representation, and Amanda Stacey also admitted theft. They were given 11-month suspended sentences.

Police were brought in after Dorothy McDonagh proved to lottery firm Camelot that the ticket was hers, The Sun newspaper reported.

Police reportedly froze the remaining £15,000 and brought charges against the couple. The pair admitted charges of making a false representation and Amanda Stacey also admitted theft.

On Tuesday, a judge at Swindon Crown Court said the pair had acted out of financial need, not greed, The Sun said.

We are reminding players to keep their tickets safe and fill out their names and addresses on the back
Camelot spokesman

A court hearing in July will decide if Ms McDonagh, 61, will get the remaining £15,000.

On Wednesday a Camelot spokesman said: "The dispute is now between the two parties involved.

"We are reminding players to keep their tickets safe and fill out their names and addresses on the back. That way there can be no dispute.

"We have a clear lost-and-found policy, so if a member of the public finds the ticket they should send it to our prize payout department, setting out in writing the circumstances of the find and the steps they took [if any] to reunite the ticket with its rightful owner.

"If no corresponding prize claim or lost ticket notice has been received, the prize may be paid to the finder at Camelot's discretion after the expiry of the 180-day claim deadline."



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