Iowa Man Hacks His Way to a $14.3 Million Jackpot

Belize. It has been uttered among the mainstream masses a few times recently. Referenced in Breaking Bad by Saul, everybody’s favorite criminal lawyer, and everybody’s favorite high-school teacher turned meth king-pin, Walter White. It is making news again, for similarly shady reasons, as well.

Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51, a former head of computer security at the Multi-State Lottery Association has been accused by state prosecutors of hacking and swindling a jackpot. A jackpot that totaled $14.3 million dollars.

It is alleged that he may have inserted a thumb drive into a highly secure computer, which is supposed to generate the random numbers that figure into a winning ticket. Eddie Tipton wanted those numbers to be his.

Here is how his master-plan allegedly unfolded:

  • On Nov. 20, 2010, Topton made his way into the secure room where the computer was housed and inserted a USB drive to manipulate the random numbers. The USB drive contained a rootkit, a special program which was designed to complete any given task and then destroy itself, to wipe any traces. Tipton for his part, had the task of manipulating the cameras to get them to record only one second per minute rather than running continuously like normal.

“Four of the five individuals who have access to control the camera’s settings will testify they did not change the cameras’ recording instructions,” prosecutors wrote. “The fifth person is defendant. It is a reasonable deduction to infer that defendant tampered with the camera equipment to have an opportunity to insert a thumb drive into the RNG tower without detection.”

  • A month later, December 23rd, Tipton was identified on video-tape, at a convenience store, buying a ticket that later won the $14.3 million dollar payout.

As an employee of the association at the time, he was barred by law from buying or claiming any lotto tickets or prizes. The ticket went unclaimed for nearly a year.

  • Merely hours before the ticket was due to expire, a company out of Belize, tried to cash in on the prize, through an attorney based in New York. It was denied however, as the individuals running the company in Belize wouldn’t share their names.
  • In January the following year, Tipton was charged with two counts of fraud.

The saga above reads like a crazy, back-door heist job movie, and for good reason.

Here was a seemingly well-off man in his early 50s, lured by the riches of what he’s supposed to be securing, as the Head of Security and he gave in. Manipulated the numbers, through the doors he had access to and nearly got away with it.

As it stands, Tipton is charged with two counts of fraud and if convicted, faces 5 years in jail and a fine that could total up to $7,500.

He’s likely to make up for his troubles. A book deal can’t be too far away. Followed surely by the big Hollywood studios auctioning for the script.