Scratch-off Lottery Ticket Becomes €250K Nightmare for Algerian in Belgium

An Algerian living in Belgium bought a scratch-off lottery ticket for €5 (US$5.40). The ticket proved to be a huge winner, but the man can’t collect his newfound fortune.

Scratch-off lottery card
Scratch-off lottery card
A man clears a scratch-off lottery ticket. One like this gave a man in Belgium a huge windfall, but he can’t collect the money. (Image: Reddit)

Dreams of winning it big in a lottery are the fantasy of millions of people around the world. For those lucky few who find the right combination of numbers or happen to be the person to pull the winning scratch-off ticket, the elation is a pure adrenaline rush.

For some, however, the rush is fleeting. Glitches, printing errors and other issues cause the bubble to burst. An Algerian living in Belgium spent €5 (US$5.40) on a scratch-off that turned into €250,000 (US$269,800). However, living illegally in the country, he can’t collect the money.

€250,000 Scratch-Off Nightmare

The unidentified man is living in Belgium without first securing having secured the necessary documentation, according to Ireland’s RTE media outlet. He entered the country illegally, presumably looking for a better way of life.

The country is reportedly a common stop on an illegal transit route for those looking to illegally make it to the UK. In Algeria, the average month salary is around $420 and about 13% of the population is unemployed.

He found a better life through the scratch-off card, but hasn’t been able to touch it. He has to claim the prize at Belgium’s National Lottery headquarters in Brussels. However, since he is undocumented, could be immediately deported.

Thinking he had a solution, he sent three of his friends to collect the winnings on his behalf. The attempt failed, however. They spent the night in jail after police incorrectly thought they had stolen the ticket.

After the truth came out, the police let the men go. The lottery winner, however, was no closer to claiming his prize.

Show Me Your ID

There were two obstacles standing in the way – the threat of deportation and the fact that the man couldn’t produce any type of legal identification. Now working with a lawyer, he has already cleared away one of the obstacles.

The Algerian never planned on staying in Belgium, where a one-bedroom apartment can run almost €800 (US$863). Instead, he reassured the authorities that he wasn’t going to seek asylum in the country and worked out another deal. Police won’t deport him until after he claims his winnings.

That process is proving to be more difficult, but not impossible. The man is reportedly working with his family in Algeria in order to secure the documents before, alongside his lawyer, presenting himself to collect the cash.

That may not be the end of the saga, either. A spokesperson for the lottery, Joke Vermoere, explains that the public prosecutor’s office is currently reviewing the case and will determine how to proceed.

It’s conceivable that someone in charge decides not to award the prize at all because of the Algerian’s irregular status in the country. That would turn the man’s would-be dream into a full-fledged nightmare.

Another €250,000 Winner

The frustrated ticket holder isn’t the only one to win big recently. Someone in Ireland is holding the sole winning ticket to this past Saturday’s Lotto Plus 2 draw.

The ticket is likely somewhere in Limerick since that’s where it was sold. The person holding the ticket is also looking at a €250,000 payday if he or she can collect the money.

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