In a first-of-its-kind crime, armed men reportedly forced the administrators of Playwin online lottery in Kohima to announce a 'winning number'. Pointing guns, they dictated the number — 903 — on October 28.
The men did not allow the administrators to raise an alarm till two hours later. By then, payments worth lakhs of rupees had been made to an unknown number of 'lucky' winners across Maharashtra, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Goa. The lottery has now been declared void.
Investigators are trying to estimate the exact quantum of losses but it is unlikely that the money that had been paid will be recovered.
A dealer in Mumbai said he had received claims worth Rs 15 lakh from winners. Some winners in Mumbai, who have been refused payment after the crime came to light, told HT they would approach police to ensure that they were not deprived of their winnings.
Rahul Tangri, assistant vice-president (business operations) of Playwin, said the online lottery 'Lucky 3 Silicon' was scheduled to close at 7.15 p.m.
But at 7.07 p.m. two men reportedly barged into Draw Hall B of a television studio in Kohima where draws were carried out, and forced the administrators to announce '903' as the winning number.
The draws are televised. The gunmen, however, forced officials to switch off cameras as 903 was keyed into the master computer.
As the number flashed on all Playwin terminals, it is suspected that people who colluded in the act grabbed the winnings. Tangri said a case had been registered and letters sent to police chiefs of all states. The two men are absconding.