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House-win lottery organiser arrested

Man offered properties worth hundreds of thousands for €10 stake – but police fear €400,000 illegal gambling fraud

POLICE have arrested the organiser of an internet lottery which offered houses valued at hundreds of thousands of euros for a stake of just €10.

Léonard Simpatico, a 51-year-old property and marketing agent in Istres, is due to face an investigating judge in Aix-en-Provence today to face allegations of running an illegal lottery, fraud, false advertising and illegal betting.

He has been accused of offering prizes of properties he did not own. Le Parisien reports today that his first winner, who was handed the keys to a €264,000 house in Istres in June, discovered that Simpatico’s company had never completed the purchase of the property.

The win, which was featured in Connexion in September and on TV news broadcasts and in national newspapers, brought in a flood of new money and Service Central des Courses et Jeux investigators from the Police Judiciaire are thought to be investigating a €400,000 fraud.

Simpatico is also accused of not reimbursing money to non-winners, which makes the draw illegal as it was run as a “game with no obligation to purchase”.

His 23-year-old daughter and an Aix notaire are also thought to have been arrested.

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