Undocumented lotto Winner Struggles to Claim Prize

    An Algerian man who won €250,000 (£206,000; $270,000) on a €5 scratchcard in Belgium is struggling to claim his winnings because of his undocumented status.

    The prize is too large to be paid in cash and the man does not have the papers he needs to open a bank account.

    A friend who tried to claim the money for him was briefly detained on suspicion of theft.

    The winner says he wants to use the money to build a life in Belgium.

    “When I get the money, I am going to buy a place to live in Brussels. And maybe a car,” the man, whose identity has not been revealed, told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.

    However, first he has to find a way to claim the money.

    The 28-year-old man has no valid identity papers nor a permanent place to live, according to Belgian broadcaster VRT.

    Because he cannot open a bank account, the lottery company will not 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,” Mr Verstraete told the AFP news agency.

    A lottery spokesperson did not specify to AFP which documents would be required to claim the win.

    One of the man’s friends, who has the correct papers, tried to claim the winnings on his behalf by going to the lottery headquarters in Brussels, which is necessary for any prize over €100,000.

    But he and two others were detained by police overnight as authorities suspected they had stolen the winning scratchcard. They were released after the winner explained the situation.

    The card is now being held by a court in the town of Bruges, close to the port of Zeebrugge where it was bought.

    Mr Verstraete says authorities have promised not to deport the man until he has received the prize money.

    The winner left Algeria four months ago, travelling by boat to Spain, according to Belgian media. From there he went on foot through Spain and France before reaching Belgium.

    He had wanted to travel on to the United Kingdom, but now says he would prefer to remain in Belgium, and hopes to start a family.

    “I will also look for a wife,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Still, I am not going to find one with my money, but with my heart.”

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