$14.3M Jackpot Abandoned, Launching Lottery Investigation, Mystery

Friday, 01 Feb 2013 04:13 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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An investigation continues into why someone in possession of a winning lottery jackpot ticket would abandon the claim once questions arose about the winner's identity.

An Iowa lottery ticket worth $14.3 million after a December 2010 drawing in Des Moines wasn't turned in until a year later, just hours before the deadline to claim the money expired.

Crawford Shaw, 77 of Bedford, N.Y., who said he represented a trust that owned the ticket, sent the ticket to a law firm in Des Moines and its attorneys tried to collect the jackpot.

Because Shaw could not produce the actual owner of the ticket, the Iowa Lottery refused to pay him, and after state officials challenged Shaw's claim to the ticket, he abandoned efforst to collect the winnings.

Now there's an ongoing inquiry into why someone due millions would abandon the claim.

"The possibilities of what could have occurred here really are endless," Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer told ABC News. "It could have been as serious as someone being killed, or someone being blackmailed. It's all within the realm of possibility. The whole situation is just strange."

"Our security ran all the checks," Neubauer told ABC News. "There was no question that it was actually the winning ticket, but they couldn't answer some very simple security questions. In most instances, the people who come in to claim the prize answer the questions off the top of their heads in just a few minutes, so this was unusual the whole way through."

She said that neither Shaw nor his attorneys could say where the ticket had been purchased or where the ticket had been for the year that the prize sat unclaimed. Shaw said he didn't know the winner's identity and that the winnings of the trust he represented would be moved to an account in Belize.

"The ticket could have been stolen or somebody might have been blackmailed," Jessica Lown, communications manager at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, told ABC News. "The important thing is that we want to sure there is nobody in physical jeopardy or that there is no financial crime going on."

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