He tells her to buy numbers again
Housewife loses winning tickets, but still gets $5,000, all thanks to supermarket employee
She had spent $57 on five 4-D tickets and then lost them. Her attempts to find the tickets were unsuccessful.
Three of the numbers that the 50-year-old housewife had picked turned out to be winners and she would have won $5,445.
While cursing her bad luck over the loss, she also had reason to celebrate as she still ended up $5,000 richer.
All thanks to a supermarket employee who had told her to buy some of her numbers again instead of crying over spilt milk.
She took his advice and spent another $20 on a smaller set of numbers. One of the numbers, 3290, struck the second prize, winning her $5,000 in Saturday's draw.
This is what happened to the housewife on a most unusual day when she was both loser and winner.
The housewife, who declined to be named, told Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao that she had bought the first set of tickets at around 4pm on Saturday for her husband.
When she got home, she realised that the tickets were missing. As she did not have her handbag with her, she had put the tickets into a pocket and believed that they had fallen out.
Worried that her husband would scold her, she immediately went back to the Singapore Pools outlet at an NTUC FairPrice supermarket at Block 107, Tampines Street 11 and searched for the missing tickets.
When she could not find them, she grew frantic.
A supermarket employee, who declined to be named, told Lianhe Wanbao that he saw the woman walking around anxiously at the entrance.
He went up to her to find out what was going on. He then told her that she still had time to buy the numbers again.
"I told her not to panic. If she couldn't find the tickets, then she could just buy the numbers again," he said.
He said he also advised her to make a police report about her missing tickets. It is not known if she made a report.
Unknown to her, a woman had found the tickets on the ground near Block 108 at about 5pm.
Madam Zeng Yanqiu, a 47-year-old Chinese national, told The New Paper yesterday that she had noticed the tickets were for that day's draw.
So she waited there for about 20 minutes in case the owner came back to look for them.
When no one showed up, she took them home and was surprised to later find out that two of the five tickets had winning numbers.
One ticket had the numbers 8504 and 5170, which were bought using the iBet system which allows for different permutations of the four numbers to win prizes.
8504 corresponded with the first prize number, 0485, and 5170 corresponded with a consolation-prize number, 7150.
Another ticket had the number 3290, which won the second prize.
Instead of using the tickets to claim the winnings, Madam Zeng reported to the police that she had found the tickets and handed them over in the hope that they could be returned to the rightful owner.
The housewife told Lianhe Wanbao that she had thought it would be easy to get back her lost tickets, but was disappointed when the police said they needed evidence to prove that she is the owner.
Singapore Pools says that punters can report the loss of a ticket by providing the Ticket Security Number and completing the Lost/Stolen Ticket(s)form. But Singapore Pools will not investigate or assist in the tracing of the ticket.
Yesterday, when TNP went to its Block 107 outlet, a counter staff member confirmed that the housewife had bought tickets twice there on Saturday.
She added that the woman, who lives in the area, is a regular shopper at the supermarket and has bought 4-D from the outlet before.
It remains to be seen if this information can help the woman get back her lost tickets. If she does, she will enjoy another windfall by doubling her winnings to $10,000.
Heavens would punish me if I took money
Some of her friends have called her stupid for "throwing" away more than $5,000 just like that, but honesty was more important to Madam Zeng Yanqiu.
The 47-year-old, who works as a hotel housekeeper, found five 4-D tickets, two of which had winning numbers.
But she did not claim the money.
Madam Zeng was walking near Block 108, Tampines Street 11, five minutes from her home on Saturday evening when she found the tickets.
That night, her daughter, 21, reminded her to check the results of the draw.
"I checked on my phone and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me - out of five tickets, two of them had winning numbers," Madam Zeng, a study mama who is returning to China in June, told The New Paper in Mandarin.
She then took the tickets to the police station and made a report.
"The owner of the tickets would have been very worried, more so after realising she had bought winning numbers," she said.
Her motive in lodging the report was to try to get the tickets back to their owner.
"The police officer told me that good things would happen to good people like me," Madam Zeng said bashfully.
Colleagues and friends have been telling her how proud they are of her, with one calling her a "role model".
"Even though some friends have told me I was stupid not to take the money, I never thought of doing that because the heavens would punish me," she said.
"Of course, it's a lot of money - nearly three months' salary for me.
"But claiming it would go against the law as well as my morals."
Her housekeeping work also means that she regularly finds the belongings of hotel guests, such as necklaces, watches and clothes.
"But I always hand them to my boss," Madam Zeng said. "Honesty is the way to go."
WHAT IF YOU LOSE YOUR TICKET?
Here are some tips on dealing with a lost or stolen 4-D ticket:
What should I do if I lose my ticket?
Lost or stolen tickets are like lost cash - they are difficult to recover.
If you have lost a lottery ticket and have its Ticket Security Number, you can make a report by getting the Report on Lost/Stolen Tickets form from the Singapore Pools website, www.singaporepools.com.sg.
A Singapore Pools spokesman said yesterday: "We will pay out the prize if a valid winning ticket is presented within the 180-day prize claim period."
She emphasised that the verification is on the ticket, not on the person who presents it.
"If the customer makes a report on a lost ticket to Pools, like any lost-and-found service, we will record it and notify the customer if the ticket is found and handed over to us subsequently," she said.
"There have been cases where customers could not claim their prizes without valid winning tickets.
"We take the opportunity to urge our customers to take good care of their tickets and claim any prize within 180 days."
What should I do if I pick up a winning ticket?
Lawyer Amolat Singh warns that this is not a case of finders keepers.
"If you go to collect the winnings, that constitutes theft as you are not the rightful owner," he said.
"The law is such that the finder must take all reasonable steps to find the owner, and the best way to do so is to make a police report."
The Singapore Pools spokesman said: "Anyone who finds a winning ticket is advised to hand it over to the police.
"In this case, the woman did the right thing by handing the tickets to the police."
What happens to the money if no one claims the lost winning ticket?
The unclaimed prizes will form part of the gaming revenue that is channelled to the Tote Board to fund good causes, said the spokesman.
What is the difference in the odds of buying numbers that strike first prize using iBet?
For the 4-D game, each four-digit combination has a one in 10,000 chance of being selected as a winning number by the draw machine.
The odds of winning any prize is one in 435, which is calculated based on the number of prizes - 23.
For iBet, a punter has 24 chances of winning, if all four digits are different, which means the winner is entitled to 1/24 of the prize money.
ODDS OF WINNING 4-D
1 in 435
chance of winning any prize.
1 in 10,000
chance of winning first prize.
1 in 100,000,000
chance of a number hitting first and second prize in the same draw.
Source: Singapore Pools