He scratched the ticket and got lucky: a prize of US$270,000. And yet, he has not been able to collect it.
A 28-year-old man of Algerian nationality has faced increasing difficulties in Belgium to claim the money he won in this lottery, in which he buys a ticket and scratches for prizes.
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The reason?: his undocumented status.
The prize is too big to be paid in cash and the man doesn’t have the papers he needs to open a bank account.
The winner does not know what to do to claim his reward, which he claims he wants to use to build a new life in Belgium.
“When I have the money, I will buy a place to live in Brussels. And maybe a car.” told the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws the man, whose identity has not been revealed.
The 28-year-old does not have valid identity documents or a permanent place to live, according to Belgian broadcaster VRT.
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Because he can’t open a bank account, the lottery company won’t make the payment, the man’s lawyer, Alexander Verstraete, said.
“We are looking for those documents that can prove his identity. He will have to contact his family in Algeria,” Verstraete told the AFP news agency.
A spokesperson for the lottery did not specify to AFP what documents will be required to claim the prize.
One of the man’s friends who has the papers in order tried to claim the winnings on his behalf.
They went to the lottery headquarters in Brussels, a procedure that is necessary for any prize over 100,000 euros.
But the friend and two others who accompanied him were arrested because the authorities suspected that they had stolen the winning card.
They were released after the winner explained the situation.
The winning card is now in the hands of a court in the city of Bruges.
Verstraete says authorities have promised not to deport the man until he has received the prize money.
The winner left Algeria four months ago after traveling by boat to Spain, according to Belgian media. From there he traversed Spain and France on foot before reaching Belgium.
She wanted to go to the UK, but now says she would prefer to stay in Belgium and hopes to start a family.
“I will also look for a wife,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws. “But I’m not going to find one with my money, but with my heart.”