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Man hacked random-number generator to rig lotteries, investigators say 10/04/2016
Samuel Gibbs and agencies
• New evidence shows lottery machines were rigged to produce predictable jackpot numbers on specific days of the year netting millions in winnings

A lottery security director who was convicted of fixing a $16.5m lottery jackpot also allegedly rigged several other lottery random-number generators to be able to predict the winning numbers, according to Iowa investigators.

For several years, Eddie Tipton, the former security director of the US Multi-State Lottery Association, installed software code that allowed him to predict winning numbers on specific days of the year, investigators allege. The random-number generators had been erased, but new forensic evidence has revealed how the hack was apparently done.

Tipton was convicted last year of rigging the $16.5m jackpot in Iowa, and is now awaiting trial on charges linking him to prizes in Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Tipton was charged after authorities released surveillance footage of a person buying the winning ticket for a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot and hot dogs at a Des Moines gas station in 2010. Colleagues identified the buyer as Tipton, a so-called computer whiz who had unparalleled access to lottery software.

Now forensic evidence, described as a “breakthrough” by investigators, have led to charges being filed against Tipton’s younger brother, Tommy Tipton, a former justice of the peace and reserve police officer in Texas for his role in securing the Colorado and Oklahoma jackpots, which allegedly netted him $1.2m in cash. He surrendered to authorities and was released on bail.

Documents filed on Wednesday show Wisconsin authorities recovered the random-number generator used for a $2m Megabucks jackpot claimed in 2008 by Eddie Tipton’s friend, Robert Rhodes. He is fighting extradition from Texas to Iowa, where he faces charges.

Two ‘lucky’ days a year
The number generator had apparently been hacked to produce predictable numbers on three days of the year, after the machine had gone through a security audit.

All six prizes linked to Tipton were drawn between 2005 and 2011 on either 23 November or 29 December.

Investigators were able to recreate the draws and produce “the very same ‘winning numbers’ from the program that was supposed to produce random numbers,” said the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent Don Smith.

Tommy Tipton first came under scrutiny in 2006 when he was discovered with $500,000 in cash in consecutively marked bills. He claimed to have won a share of a $4.5m Colorado Lotto jackpot and that he had recruited a friend to collect the winnings to avoid his wife finding out during divorce considerations.

Randy Schaffer, representing Tommy Tipton, said his client “took the high road” by surrendering rather than fighting extradition.

Schaffer said: “This is a guy who, until a few months ago, was a judge. He’s going to hopefully … be professional and responsible in his dealings.”