A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Hugo Reed
We’ve all been there, right? Lounging on the couch, daydreaming about what you would do if you got lucky and just won the lottery. For some, you might daydream while driving down the road. Thinking about maybe traveling the world with all of that cash. I know I’ve been there. I have fantasized about buying a tiny private island and leaving the world behind more times than I can count. Should be easy right? You cash in your winnings and just jet off to live the life. I’ve never really understood what ‘the life’ is, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Unfortunately winning the lottery has never really been easy. It is, after all, a game of chance. Do not read this as a treatise against the lottery and the potential to increase your financial status in life. Instead, take this as a call to look at some of the harsh realities you could potentially be plagued with. It is easy to get lost in the excitement of winning the lottery, but sometimes winning the lottery could compromise your security in ways you didn’t even dream possible.
This section is meant to cater to those of you that are somewhat unfamiliar with the lottery. You might have an idea of what it means to win (you get free money – sort of) but you do not really know what it takes to win. Most people will tell you that the simple answer is luck, but there are a few more steps that come into play before luck takes hold. One common saying that people like to use is, “you can never win the lottery if you don’t actually play the lottery”. In the face of inaction, luck means very, very little.
There are several different ways in which the lottery could be played, I mean who isn’t a fan of diversity in gambling? From scratch-to-win games, to daily games, or even games where you have to pick a predetermined set of numbers. Essentially, the entirety of the game is dependent on people being lucky enough to pick the right set of things that will single them out as a winner. In order to participate in the lottery, you need to buy the power to do so. This is usually very easy and cheap. However, because the odds are (almost always) against you, it always helps to buy more power to win, and this is when the costs of playing the lottery begin to rack up.
It is because the cost of buying into the lottery can get out of hand that there is often a negative connotation associated with the lottery, and with gambling in general. Personally, this sentiment has always amazed me, but to some effect, I can see why people would dislike the lottery. The argument behind this is that the lottery can actually end up harming individuals with lower incomes. They are sucked into the vicious cycle of spending more money on lottery tickets, even though there is a very slim possibility that they will win anything at all. For all I know, this could be a valid argument, but like I already said, you can’t win if you don’t play.
The short answer to this rather ominous sounding question is that winning the lottery can affect your security in a drastic way. I mean think about it, a sudden influx of money will change almost every aspect of your life, regardless of whether this happens in a minor or major way. Even if you happen to win a small amount of money, you now have more money than you did before you won the lottery. With so many different changes becoming apparent (and on different scales) it can be hard to keep track of everything going on in your life, and this automatically makes you somewhat vulnerable.
It is often the case that you will have to begin paying attention to things you could have easily ignored before. There are so many aspects of security that people take for granted on a daily basis. However, when you win the lottery and you are thrust into the spotlight and (potentially) a new life, you can’t continue to do things the same way you did before. It is important to make sure that you are more mindful of all the things around you and how they could each affect you. After all, now you have something to lose.
In this context, you should avoid thinking of security in broad terms. Narrowing it down allows you to figure out all the ways your security could be compromised, and this helps you set up measures to prevent any security hiccups. You should take your personal security, financial security, home security, cyber security, and the security of your immediate family into account. I’ll take the time to walk you through all of these. I will also make it a point to outline how the lottery could compromise security, and the measures that you can employ to guard against this. Let’s get started.
The most direct change that people will most likely witness is that there will be a change in their personal security. This is not to say that there will be a target on your back, but if you were used to carrying on without ever having to look over your shoulder, the days for that may be long gone. Your personal security can be affected right from the moment you find out that you might have won the lottery, and it will be looming over you for quite some time afterward.
1. More Susceptible to Theft – From the moment you get hold of your winning ticket or winning set of numbers, there is a chance that you are now more likely to be a victim of theft. A winning lottery ticket is a bearer instrument, which means that whoever is in possession of the winning document is entitled to the prize money and any other benefits that come with it. If someone is able to swipe your winning ticket, there is a very high possibility that they will be able to cash it in. This is why your ticket is an important document that you should keep secure. Also, if you are able to cash in your ticket and win big, people will now see you as a very lucrative target. For instance, Jack Whittaker was robbed of $545,000 outside of a strip club. This incident occurred just eight months after he had won the Powerball for $315 million.
2. You Become a Target for Stalkers – Stalkers like to hound people that they believe can give them something they do not yet have. In most cases, this ends up violating someone else’s security, safety and all around well-being. The same holds true for anyone that wins the lottery, even if the prize money is for a small amount. People will begin to hound you and invade your private space because they think that you can help them with a problem, or simply because they want a piece of the pie you now hold. It might sound like an urban myth, but you will be surprised at the number of people that crawl out of the woodwork when they sniff new money that’s not theirs.
There is a tendency for stalkers to violate people’s security, and they often do this without any regard to laws that are in place to prohibit this. This places lottery winners in a very tight position. It might have been easy to handle life when you had just one stalker, but when you hit the jackpot, you will be dealing with so much more than one weird individual. Even if you decide to travel and get away for a little bit, make sure that you adequately research your destination. The news is global these days, so if you happen to hit it big, you can still become a target for stalkers in other countries, and you will be much more vulnerable as a tourist.
3. Increased Potential of Kidnapping – Your personal security is compromised as soon as you or anyone within your immediate family can be viewed as leverage. When someone wins the lottery, people do their absolute best to try and pry part of it out of their hands. In some extreme cases, it can go as far as people being kidnapped and used as leverage. This is mostly done in order to use the winnings as leverage to be exchanged for a person.
Not only does this violate your personal security and place you and your immediate family in danger, it also opens the door for this to be a continued action. I mean, if you give in to the kidnapper’s demands, who is to say that someone won’t attempt the same thing again? As a lottery winner, you should invest time to increase your awareness when it comes to your personal security. There have been many winners who have become easy prey, because they live alone and they do not practice some of these handy tips for single living.
4. Increased Rate of Homicide – There is an increased rate of homicide and homicide attempts among lottery winners. It is very easy to understand why, if you take the time to consider it. There are only a handful of states that allow you to retain your anonymity if you win the lottery. For the much smaller prizes, there isn’t always the need (or interest) to know who the winners are.
However, this luxury is not extended to those who win the bigger prizes. Somehow, being lucky enough to win the lottery singles you out as a potential homicide victim. People feel entitled to your money enough to make attempts on your life in order to get their hands on what’s not theirs. For instance, Jeffrey Dampier was murdered by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend in an alleged attempt to seize control of the rest of his lottery winnings.
5. Volatile Personal Relationships – The end of the section above is a good segue into this final part, which will discuss the ways volatile personal relationships can compromise your security. Who would have thought that the people closest to you could be a threat because you have some money now, right? Wrong! (I hope you didn’t read that thinking I was yelling ‘wrong’, I said it as softly as I could). Remember how I said everything has the potential to change when you win the lottery? There were no exemptions to that statement.
It is crucial to be cognizant of the fact that the people who are closest to you might have intricate knowledge of your habits and traits. This means that if they intend to compromise your security, they will have an upper hand. These people have much more access to you as compared to any regular person, and sometimes they take advantage of this. A good example is the case of Abraham Shakespeare. He was befriended by a lady named DeeDee Moore shortly after he won the lottery. You wonder where he ended up? Buried under a slab of concrete with two bullets in his chest. Who put the bullets there, and the body under concrete? DeeDee Moore.
Similar to your personal security, your home security can also be compromised by the amazing good fortune that is the lottery. This is not surprising because your home security is often an extension of your personal security.
1. Puts Your Home on the Radar – I briefly touched on the topic of anonymity earlier on, and I will address it again in this section. There are only a handful of states that allow you to remain anonymous once you win the lottery. A majority of states make the winners of the lottery public knowledge, and this often throws them in the spotlight. The spotlight comes with some really hard-hitting consequences. One of the major downsides of this is that the general public will now know where you reside.
Keeping your home secure is a whole lot easier when only a select group of people know where you stay. However, with the publicity that follows in the wake of a really big lottery win, it is nearly impossible to drop off the radar, and it becomes much easier for people to find out where you live. This usually means that your home will now see a spike in visitors and potential foot traffic.
2. Exposes Your Security – Some of the best home security measures are often the ones that people are unaware of. However, as I mentioned above, the publicity that follows a lottery win can be overwhelming. This means that there will be aspects of your life on display and your home security can be jeopardized because of this. It exposes some of the basic aspects of your security measures to the general public. For instance, if you have an alarm system installed in your house and you openly advertise this, you should expect the whole world to know that this lottery winner uses ADT (or something similar). You might think that tiny things like this have no impact on your security, but they do.
3. Leads to Harassment – Who knew winning the lottery could be such a headache? Don’t get me wrong, I would still take on this headache for a few million dollars if I had to. It seems like one of the fairest trade deals in the history of trade deals. Many lottery winners have complained about how intense harassment can get, and how their homes no longer feel safe and secure. This all ties in with how far you are thrust into the public domain.
Anyone with a harebrained scheme can come knocking on your door looking for investors, or it could just be someone who wants a handout. Having that many people converging on your property at all hours of the day put you and your family at risk. Also, similar to stalking, it only takes a matter of time before people become consumed by greed and are driven to completely ignore whatever boundaries you might have set up.
Whenever someone talks about the pitfalls of winning the lottery, financial security is where they seem to focus most of their energy (and for good reason). About 70% of lottery winners go broke within seven years. If you have never handled a large sum of money, there is every possibility that you will be overwhelmed by your lottery winnings when you take hold of them. In addition to the overwhelming nature of newly acquired wealth, you will have to contend with all the people who are trying to make you spend your money. This section will talk about the ways in which winning the lottery might compromise your financial security.
1. Bad Investments – As I mentioned earlier, people will hound you for some money, but no one will hound you the way investors will. Sometimes, these investors might actually be professionals who know what they are doing and are in place to help you. More often than not, however, the people who solicit your help are amateur investors who do not have any solid plans in place, and are just looking for money to spend. If you do not have the proper advisory team in place, it is possible that you could wind up investing large sums of money in ventures that will yield nothing for you. Engaging in these acts is ultimately very damaging to your financial security.
2. Higher Risk of Fraud – Fraud is very similar to theft, in the way we discussed it earlier on in this post. With large sums of money at your disposal (or more money than you had before you won the lottery), there is always a chance that it could be compromised. This is why you have to take the time and look into the financial institutions you decide to invest your money in, as well as employ some less conventional methods to keep your liquid assets safeguarded. Imagine if you just won the lottery and you decided to keep a bulk of your money in a reputable financial institution, only to find out that they made off with your money in a major fraudulent scheme.
3. Higher Risk of Scams – Bad investments are similar to scams, except for the fact that a bad investment might have been made with good intentions that just did not pan out, due to poor business acumen or other external factors. However, when it comes to scams, it is likely that someone sought you out and intends to siphon off some of your new found wealth. This is a rather common occurrence, even among people who do not win the lottery, but your chances of becoming a victim will skyrocket in proportion to your good fortune. If you happen to come across an email from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince, please do not indulge them. Also, before you invest any money (or enter an oral agreement) make sure you know exactly what you are getting into, and if you can run it by some financial advisors.
4. Cyber Vulnerabilities – It might seem weird to discuss cyber vulnerabilities under financial security, but if you stick with me for just a little longer you will understand how they interact with each other. Cyber security would not have been an issue about 20 years ago. If you won the lottery back then, you would have to contend with much more traditional problems. However, in modern times, cyber security has become a major part of everything. It is important to make sure that your cyber protocols do not leave your vital financial information vulnerable. The same way you could become a target for regular burglars and more traditional criminals, you could also become a target for hackers who wish to exploit you.
I have spent a majority of the time focusing on the ways winning the lottery could potentially compromise aspects of your security, but I can’t just leave you hanging with that information. I’ll take a quick look at some additional tips and tricks you can employ to make sure that you do not let your lottery winnings undermine your security.
I would like to end by saying that I am not against playing the lottery, and I am completely open to the idea of winning some free money. However, this does not mean that I think you should completely neglect your security and get lost in the daze of the excitement that comes with winning. Much like anything else in life, moderation is good and keeping a healthy pace will help you plan things out in a much better fashion. Moderate your spending and the way you share information about your winnings, while you simultaneously build layers of security around your life.