Red face for the media over fake 90-million-baht lottery jackpot
It appears that social media users and even most of the mainstream media have fallen victim to a hoax by a lottery vendor in Samut Sakhon who became an instant media sensation last week after claiming to have sold a set of lottery tickets that won his customer a 90-million-baht first prize.
The Loei native lottery vendor, Thanawat Kamhaengphon, was widely lauded for his “honesty” after he came forth with a claim that the alleged winning lottery tickets were still in his possession when the fortnightly lottery results were announced on September 1. He told the media that he called his unidentified customer to tell him to collect the lottery tickets to claim the prize money. He said the customer had earlier placed the order for the winning lottery tickets by phone.
The number of the first-prize lottery tickets for the September 1 draw was 734510.
Even well-known fortune-teller Sinsae Pen Noeng visited Thanawat’s lottery stall at a gas station in Samut Sakhon on September 5 to heap praise on the young lottery vendor for his honesty. He claimed that the location of the lottery stall fit the feng shui, predicting that the vendor would prosper in his career.
Thanawat also claimed that another one of his customers had earlier won a 90-million baht prize for the July 1 draw. Thanawat’s amazing story immediately triggered a media frenzy, which in turn prompted a rush by hundreds of people to his lottery stall.
But it was Atchariya Roengrattanapong, a well-known self-proclaimed crusader to help crime victims, who first raised the red flag. For some reasons, Atchariya became suspicious that the vendor might have faked the numbers of the tickets. His suspicion was confirmed when he was told by officials at the Government Lottery Office that nobody had turned up to claim the prize money with the reported winning lottery tickets — something very unusual as winners of major prizes would have come forth to claim the money almost right away.
Atchariya also unsuccessfully challenged Thanawat to disclose the name of the lucky customer or to show the winning tickets if they are still with him.
A Samut Sakhon provincial police team, led by Pol Lt-Col Somchai Khorkhar, deputy superintendent of Kok Kham district police, on Saturday visited Thanawat’s stall at the gas station and at his residence to look for him, but could not locate him or his wife.
The officer said he had sufficient evidence to prove that the lottery vendor did not have the winning lottery tickets nor was there a lucky winner as claimed.
However, after he was later apprehended and confronted with a fraud charge, Thanawat admitted that he faked the whole story about the winning lottery tickets and the lucky winner. He added he faked the winning numbers as a hoax and didn’t expect it to be picked up in the social media. He apologized for what he did.
But Pol Maj-Gen Surachet Hakparn, deputy commissioner of tourist police, was not amused. He ordered an arrest of Thanawat on three charges faking official document, fraud and violation of Computer Crime Act.