Severe Punishment for Lottery Rigging in China

Monday October 22, 2018 12:43 pm

The Lottery Lab Staff

This is the unfortunate story of Zhao Liqun, who is serving a life sentence in prison for spotting a flaw in the China Welfare Lottery. In 2005, Zhou, 36, was working as a ticket seller in the province of Anshan when he exploited a bug to win 3 separate times grabbing a total prize of 28 million Yuan ($3.6 million).

Zhou discovered that the lottery’s computer system would allow a user to purchase a ticket up to five minutes after the announcement of the winning numbers. This flaw would allow a player to purchase a ticket with the winning numbers after the drawing was over then claim the winning jackpot. Zhou convinced his neighbors and friends to join him in the scheme by cashing the ticket at the lottery center and bringing the money back to him. By involving his friends and neighbor, Zhou assumed that his involvement would go unnoticed. He was successful in claiming a prize three times.

But there was one small problem with Zhou’s plan that grabbed the attention of the lottery center. The time of the purchase was printed on the ticket.  This was enough for the lottery center to investigate the case. They quickly discovered that the prizes have been illegally claimed.  Rather than simply demanding the return of the money, an arrest warrant was issued for Zhou. Once arrested, Zhou received a life-long prison sentence and had all of his property confiscated. There is no news on whether Zhou’s friends and neighbors were arrested.

There are three important points to take away from the story of Zhou’s experience. First, it is often those with detailed information about the lottery who are best positioned to find ways to take advantage of the system. Second, while many lottery commissions would have us believe that modern technology protects against flaws in the system, important weaknesses continue to be discovered.  Finally, the severity of Zhou’s punishment reflects the concern that government lotteries have about anyone who reveals the weaknesses of their systems. Click here to read more here.