Lotto couple in 16m nightmare - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

An elderly Norfolk couple were last night exposed as the unlikely fronts for an overseas betting business that netted a 16m National Lottery jackpot.

Ken and Gladys Jackson were a key part of a worldwide network that bought thousands of lottery tickets every week, then sold them on to gamblers across the globe.

Last night, lottery operator Camelot admitted its concern at the operation, but said it was not illegal because the Jacksons were British.

Mr Jackson, 77, took as long as two days to process up to 2000 tickets a week at shops in his home town of Sheringham.

The work was a good retirement income for the former plastics technologist, whose wife helped to check the numbers.

But it turned into a nightmare when, in January 2002, the numbers came up on one of the tickets netting a 16,627,894 rollover jackpot for a Swiss gambler and accountant called Rene Hussy.

Mr and Mrs Jackson, who took eight days to come forward to claim the cash as they wrestled with how to transfer such a huge sum overseas, eventually scooped 40,000 in interest while the money was in England.

But, despite the windfall, last night Mrs Jackson told the EDP: "I wish I had not found the ticket now."

The 2000 tickets a week represented up to 14,000 bets, made by clients who paid 4 per ticket to Overseas Subscribers Agents (OSA).

OSA is operated by a British businessman and his Indian and New Zealand partners from an office in Manila in the Philippines.

Mr Jackson was OSA's British-based agent. Without him the operation would have been illegal because only British citizens and foreign tourists are allowed to play the game.

Once the tickets were processed which often took two days, in between other customers they were sold on to speculators in other countries.

Despite the operation being legal, Mr Jackson was visited by Camelot's investigations team when they spotted the huge sums of money being processed in one location.

When the jackpot was won it also attracted widespread interest from the press because the winners waited eight days to claim the prize.

The pause was because Mr Jackson was trying to contact company bosses to work out how to transfer such a large sum overseas.

Mrs Jackson said she could not believe it when she found a six-number match in her hand.

"I wish I had not found it now," she said.

Mr Jackson explained how he had been at the cinema when his wife carried out the fateful check.

He said: "I came back from the pictures and she was trembling. She said 'I think we have a problem, we have got six numbers'.

"Of course if it had been my money it would have been very different, but it wasn't."

The Jacksons said they were left feeling like pawns in a game and were now concerned about losing their flat in the fallout from the publication of their names.

They had originally asked Camelot for anonymity and were angry that the information had somehow become public.

"We only ever made a few quid at a time from doing the tickets and we don't feel we ever did anything wrong," said Mr Jackson.

"The shops always knew what was going on, we were up front with them."

The Jacksons ended up earning around 40,000 interest while the jackpot money was held in a British bank before being transferred to Liechtenstein. But most of this was spent on debts and a trip to Australia to pursue Mr Jackson's interest in an arthritis remedy derived from herbs.

A spokesman for Camelot said an investigation had taken place into bulk buying for OAS but no laws had been broken.

"The operation of a commercial syndicate is not illegal under UK law nor is it in principle contrary to the rules governing the operation of the National Lottery," he said.

"However, we do not consider it is in the best interest of players to participate in the National Lottery via a consumer syndicate."

Mr Jackson said he started the ticketing work about ten years ago. He was still processing some tickets, but not nearly as many before and only on a fortnightly basis.

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