Supermarket worker stole colleagues' lottery win

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Susan Meakin, a 42 year-old former Sainsbury's employee at the Beeston store, Nottinghamshire, ran a Lottery syndicate which included 72 workers at the store. However, when they matched four numbers and two lucky stars on the Euromillions in December winning £4,550.60, she decided not to tell them about the win, and take the lot.

So is it safe to join a syndicate?



Theft

Meakin, of Wellington Street in Eastwood, admitted stealing the money - as well as £300, which had accidentally been left by a customer at the self-service tills. She used some of the cash to pay off some of the £30,000 debts she had run up through gambling.

According to the Nottingham Post, her defence told the court that she had started gambling after the death of her father, had taken out loans and credit cards to pay for her addiction, and then turned to payday loans. She was desperate by the time of the theft.

She was sacked by the supermarket in February. She was ordered by the court to pay the lottery money back to her colleagues - and miss out on her share of the win. She was also give a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

The Telegraph reported that she took £500 cash from the winnings and deposited the rest. She was only caught when she accidentally told another member of staff about the win.

Are syndicates safe?

It shows that gambling in a lottery syndicate can be a tricky business. This is not the first syndicate to run into trouble.

In July, 10 staff at a Merseyside recruitment firm won £28.8 million in the Lottery. Unfortunately one regular syndicate member was ill on the day the ticket was bought, and didn't pay in. Her lawyer told the press that she was planning to sue the other members for excluding her from the payout.

Back in March this year, a syndicate at the DVLA in Swansea fell out after a £1 million win, because three people in the 16-person syndicate hadn't paid their subscriptions that week.

A month earlier in Indiana, the argument ended up in court, after a hair stylist bought one lottery ticket for herself and one for the syndicate, and her own ticket came up with a $9.5 million win.

And last year, there was a row among New Jersey construction workers. One member said the $24 million winning ticket was one he'd bought for himself, and didn't belong to the syndicate. A judge ruled that he had to share the payout.

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Agreement

Clearly there's scope for plenty of argument - especially as 79% of all syndicates get together without a sensible agreement. However, this doesn't mean that all syndicates are doomed. It just means that they aren't something you should wander into without laying out the ground rules.

The National Lottery suggests that syndicates need rules - such as the details of the members, what they contribute each week, and how any win is shared. This also needs to include details of what happens if someone doesn't contribute in a particular week.

They should also lay out in writing which numbers they will play, the games they'll play, and what happens if the person buying the ticket gets one for themselves at the same time.

They need to agree in advance what will happen if one or more people want to leave too. They also need a procedure for checking for a win which cannot be abused by any one member.

The Lottery also makes it clear that once the rules are established, they must be adhered to - otherwise they'll fall apart the minute the syndicate wins.

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