Finally unlucky… A 28-year-old Algerian man in an illegal situation won 250,000 euros in a Belgian national lottery scratch card game, but is now struggling to recover his winnings, which will only be paid out to him if he can prove his identity. Alexander Verstraete, the young man’s lawyer, said on Friday that the winning ticket was currently in the hands of the judiciary in Bruges (North) after three friends tried unsuccessfully to get the money back for him. This led to the latter, also North African, being suspected of theft and spending a night in police custody last week, Me Verstraete pointed out.
The Bruges public prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation to determine the lucky winner. He was able to exonerate his friends by presenting himself to the police with his lawyer, but he now has to prove his good faith. “My client is in an illegal situation, he has no papers and no bank account,” said the lawyer, “we are looking for these documents that can prove his identity, he has to go to his family in Algeria”.
The main prize
The winning ticket was bought a few weeks ago in Zeebrugge, a Belgian port city that is a popular destination for migrants attempting to cross to England illegally, hiding in lorries or containers.
According to Me Verstraete, his client, who has no intention of applying for asylum to stay in Belgium (he does not come from a country at war), received a promise from the Belgian authorities not to be sent back to the border before he perceived it his profit. This win represents the ‘jackpot’ of a scratch card from the ‘Cash’ range, which sells for five euros and offers, according to the national lottery website, ‘a 3.69 chance’ of winning back your stake.
Need a bank account
The retailer who sold that ticket is prohibited from handing out such a cash prize. For every “prize” over 100,000 euros, the ticket outlet systematically sends the winner back to the company’s headquarters in Brussels, explained Joke Vermoere, spokesman for the national lottery.
This is where the winner’s three friends went, one of whom claimed to be able to collect the money from his bank account. “The winner did not come to us, we did not see him, which at the moment is blocking the procedure for handing over the prize,” claimed Joke Vermoere, without specifying the conditions or the type of documents required: “He is in the hands of the prosecutor Bruges”.