Penniless Lottery Winner Arrested for Stealing Phones

Article from Munhwa Ilbo:

“I should have not won lottery,” Regrets of a Young Thief.

A man in his thirties has been apprehended for having engaged in smartphone thefts since squandering his lottery winnings. The man ruefully told the police, “If I had not won the lottery, I would have lived a normal life.”

Winning lottery tickets are pictured.

The police in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, detained the 34-year-old on March 5th on charges of shoplifting smartphones at multiple mobile phone stores.

A police investigation found that the suspect has pilfered smartphones and clothing worth ₩130 million at mobile phone stores and clothing stores since March of last year. In one theft that took place on December 2nd, he ran away with two smartphones after pretending to be a customer at the store.

The police also discovered that the thief won a ₩1.7 billion ($1.6 million) lottery jackpot back in 2006 during a period when he had no steady job. He received ₩1.4 billion of the pre-tax ₩1.7 billion prize.

Catapulted overnight wealth at age 26 and unmarried, he frequented the Gangwon Land casino and gambled away several hundreds of million won.

He also splurged at karaoke and other entertainment establishments, resulting in him becoming penniless just four years after getting an once-in-a-lifetime windfall.

He reportedly said to the police during the investigation, “The ₩1.4 billion winnings was not much money because I spent multiple hundreds of millions of won sometimes.”

After going broke, he turned to crime around April 2010, his profile emerged on wanted posters starting in June of the same year.

To evade police, the thief used unidentified cellular phones and rental cars as he traveled away from his hometown of Jinju into Changwon, South Gyengsang Province, where he lived in motels. Smartphone thefts became the source of income for the fugitive.

He is also reported to have postured as a gangster to store workers, showing his tattoos in order to intimidate. In other cases, he posed as a friend of the shop owner, then asked for a smartphone to call the owner before running away with the borrowed phone.

The fugitive sold stolen smartphones for a price ranging from ₩150,000 to ₩ 1 million each and has kept buying lottery tickets every week, dreaming of another jackpot.

At the time of arrest, the wanted man has about ten lottery tickets in his possession.

Asked by the police about the lottery prize, he declined to testify saying, “Don’t mention it, it still hurts me.”

When pressed, he said, “I think the lottery winnings ruined my life. I should have lived a normal life without winning the lottery. When I get out the prison, I will never live that way,” he was quoted as saying by the police.

In a separate case, a man in his forties was prosecuted on December 2012 in Incheon, western Seoul for beating his wife after he went on a spending spree with his lottery winnings and went broke. In July of the same year, a Gwangju man committed suicide after becoming heavily indebted, five years after striking the jackpot.

Homless people rough it out.

Comments from Daum:


Garbage like this doesn’t know how to spend a big money wisely. Most of the lottery winners live a happy life on the interest earned from putting their winnings into bank accounts.

9am: [responding to above]

A U.S. study found that more than 80 percent of lottery winners end up either less wealthy or at a similar level soon after their win. I can’t understand why the above comment got more than 4,000 upvotes. As the old saying goes, a wise man knows himself.


ㅋㅋㅋI think he’s crazy. It wasn’t that the lottery ruined a good man, it was that a bad man won the lottery and then ruined his own life.

초원의 빛:

God should have blessed the three women who committed suicide because of their poverty, instead of giving such blessings to this trash.ㅠㅠㅠㅠ


I guess that without the lottery win, he would have started stealing in 2006 when he hit the jackpot, not in 2010. Why blame the lottery for his crime! Anyway, I should be thankful to this man. His case teaches me that even if I win the lottery, the prize money could slip out of my hand like sand unless I get my act together.


I am confident I wouldn’t end up like him, and would make a good plan for spending and become a do-gooder. So, please God of luck give a blessing to me this week.


It’s so frustrating that the lottery win went to a guy like him instead of someone who is hardworking and a spends carefully.

친구: [responding to above]

The person you describe would never buy a lottery ticket. He or she would definitely deposit any income into a bank account.

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