Xi'an lottery fraud suspect admits cheating
Yang Yongming, who is suspected of manipulating a March lottery in Xi'an in Northwest China, has reportedly confessed to police he did cheat.
Meanwhile, the only real top prize winner in the 17 million (US$2 million) China Sports Lottery, 18-year-old Liu Liang, has brought the Shaanxi Provincial Sports Lottery Centre to court. A hearing is expected at the end of the month.
The Shaanxi centre announced that Liu held a fake lottery ticket in late March just after he drew a winning ticket that offered a prize of 120,000 yuan (US$14,500) and a new BMW car worth of 480,000 yuan (US$58,000).
Yang later said he deserved all four top prizes but had made a mistake in secretly changing an envelope containing the winning number. As a result, Liu got the top prize ticket through good fortune, but at Yang's expense.
Two of Yang's friends, Yue Bing and Liu Xiaoli, who were named top prize winners through cheating, were also caught by police late last month along with Yang.
The whereabouts of Wang Jun, the alleged third fake prize winner, are not yet known.
The National centre decided to suspend sales of sports lottery tickets throughout Shaanxi Province after the scandal occurred.
But officials with the centre refused comment Sunday.
Sources with the Xincheng Branch of the Xi'an Municipal Bureau of Public Security confirmed that through joint efforts by police and inspection authorities, an investigative group has been set up to investigate the case.
In late March, Liu Liang drew a top prize ticket at the sports lottery sales site in Xi'an and organizers arranged for him to drive the BMW car for five hours in the provincial capital city as publicity stunt.
But a day later, the Xi'an centre announced the ticket submitted by Liu was fake and refused to fulfil the promise of his prize.
Liu then climbed on top an advertising billboard to ask for his BMW before finally being convinced by police officers to come down.
After that, the Shaanxi centre organized a news conference saying that Liu's ticket had been confirmed by the National centre to be a fake one through alteration.
Upon this, Liu announced to press that the ticket was absolutely not produced by him and the so-called fake one was not the original one Liu drew.
Meanwhile, Wang Xiaoban, a former industry insider in Xi'an pointed out that Yang Yongming, as a private contractor for sports lottery sales, has previously been suspected of cheating within the industry.
Yang was suspected to be involved in counterfeiting notarized papers in 2000 for a prize of 200,000 yuan (US$24,200).
But the provincial sports lottery centre continued to increase Yang's contracting amounts from 15 million yuan (US$1.8 million) last year to 18 million (US$2.2 million) this year.
According to a regulation issued by the Ministry of Finance last year, lottery organizations are not permitted to entrust the sales of lottery tickets to others through contracting.
"The provincial sports lottery centre can get a 1 per cent profit from the contracting without shouldering any risk," Wang explained.
The lottery scandal has decreased the credibility of the lottery among residents.
Yang Zhaojun, a Beijing resident who has often purchased sports lottery tickets said Sunday he will reconsider whether to buy any more.
"If the result is determined by organizers, why should I pay my money and spend time in it?" he said.
Currently, there is no law regulating China's lottery market.
Last year,sales of sports lottery reached 20 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion), including 676 million yuan (US$82 million) in ticket sales, the type involved in Xi'an.
The rest are computer sports lotteries, with sales of 11.5 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) and football lotteries with sales of 7.9 billion yuan (US$950 million), sources with the National Sports Lottery Centre said.