UK Man Busted for Running Illegal Facebook Lotteries


A would-be online entrepreneur from the UK has met his end. Police caught up with him in March for running illegal lotteries on Facebook, confiscating his rewards.

Facebook’s all-too-familiar logo. The social media platform has become a target for those operating illegal lotteries and other illegal gambling activity. (Image: Politico)

The concept behind social media is the sharing of content. Whether with everyone or just family and friends, it’s out there for the world to see. Therefore, using it to operate an illegal business isn’t the smartest idea.

A man out of the UK learned that lesson the hard way recently. Following a lengthy investigation, police broke the entrepreneur’s spirit, his bank accounts and his dreams.

Death of an Illegal Lottery

Since at least 2020, an unidentified 27-year-old from Middlesbrough was running illegal lotteries through his Facebook page, according to the Teesside Gazette. It’s possible he conducted the activity prior to that, but that was the year police launched their investigation.

The would-be entrepreneur offered a variety of lottery-style games, including raffles, bonus balls and more. He reportedly had thousands of transactions appear in his bank accounts, but it isn’t clear how much he may have earned.

No one should profit from criminal activity, and the Proceeds of Crime Act enables police and partner agencies to confiscate cash, including money held in bank accounts and other physical assets gained through illegal means,” states police sergeant Suzanne Boulton.

At the end of March, police moved in and seized £140,000 (US$182,504) from different bank accounts he controlled. The seizure likely caught him by surprise, although the media outlet didn’t add if police had arrested him. It only mentioned the seizure of the money.

The Teesside Gazette states that the money was likely profit from the Facebook lotteries. However, the wording leaves open the possibility that, perhaps, not all of the money was from his extracurricular activities. The media outlet asserts that the funds were “considered” to be personal profit from the lotteries.

UK Gambling Commission Assisted

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) had a hand in the investigation, as well. As the UK’s gaming regulator, it would be the best source of information on what is and isn’t illegal in terms of gambling activity.

Lottery operators have to meet certain requirements in order to conduct their activity. They can be full-fledged, licensed entities with the appropriate approval.

Alternatively, they can be charities or other worthwhile organizations using the lotteries to support their operations. In no case in the UK can an individual operate a lottery for personal or commercial gain, except with an exemption from the UKGC.

This result serves as a stark warning that anyone involved in such activity can expect to find themselves the focus of intense scrutiny and any so-called ill-gotten gains can be forfeit,” adds Boulton.

The UKGC continues to crack down on illegal social media lotteries. It is witnessing an increase in the illegal activity that it is now working to take down. It promises to continue to target all illegal lotteries with the assistance of law enforcement and other entities.

Facebook – now Meta – is allegedly doing its part to assist, as well. It has taken several steps over the past year to reduce gambling advertising on its platforms. Additionally, it has previously stated that it is being more proactive in stopping any illegal gambling through its social channels.

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