One of the 28-year-old man’s friends tried claiming the lottery winnings on his behalf, but was soon arrested by the authorities
Imagine winning millions of rands in the Lotto or Powerball draw, but cannot claim your fortune – that’s kind of the case with a 28-year-old man in Belgium.
According to international media, the man, originally from Algeria, won $270 000 (over R3.9 million) on a scratchcard. But he can’t receive his cash because of his undocumented status.
“When I get the money, I am going to buy a place to live in Brussels. And maybe a car,” he is quoted as having told Belgian media.
He has since launched a big to claim his winnings, even going as far as getting a lawyer to help him. The main problem is that he has no valid identity papers nor a permanent place to live, which means he cannot open a bank account.
“My client is in an illegal situation, he has no papers and no bank account. We are looking for those documents that can prove his identity. He will have to contact his family in Algeria,” his lawyer Alexander Verstraete told AFP.
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One of the man’s friends tried collecting the lotto winnings on his behalf as he had the right papers, but he and two others were arrested. This is because the authorities suspected they had stolen the winning scratchcard. They were released after the winner showed up with his lawyer and explained the situation.
The winning ticket was bought a few weeks ago in Zeebrugge, which is a Belgian port city. It is a popular destination for migrants and refugees trying to reach England.
According to Belgian media, the man left Algeria several months ago – then went to Spain and France on foot before eventually landing in Belgium. The winning lotto ticket is currently being held at a court in Zeebrugge and the man’s lawyer says authorities have promised to not deport him until he has claimed the winnings.