Naples tobacconist who stole winning scratch card stopped in Rome airport

Man accused of stealing winning scratch card stopped before he left Italy.

A tobacconist who allegedly stole a winning scratch card in Naples was apprehended by police at Rome's Fiumicino airport before boarding a flight to the Canary Islands.

The 57-year-old man is accused of stealing a scratch card worth €500,000 from an elderly customer at the shop where he worked, after the lady asked staff to double-check the winning numbers on Friday.

An employee used the official ticket reading machine to confirm that the pensioner had indeed won half a million euro, before passing the ticket to the manager, identified in the media as Gaetano Scutellaro.

However, as soon as he got his hands on the winning ticket, Scutellaro is alleged to have grabbed his helmet and sped away on his motorbike.

With Scutellaro then uncontactable and a police search underway, the jackpot winner reportedly asked lottery authorities to block the ticket to prevent its proceeds from being accessed.

Italian media reports that Scutellaro stopped in Latina, a seaside town between Naples and Rome, to open a new bank account and take out an insurance policy, telling the bank that the winning ticket was his.

While in Latina he also reportedly bought a plane ticket for Fuerteventura before being blocked by border police in Fiumicino after booking the flight using his real name.

However the man was not in possession of the winning ticket at the time of being detained, telling police he had deposited it in the bank.

Scutellaro asserts his innocence, claiming that the ticket is his and declaring his intention to sue the elderly customer for slander, reports Rome newspaper Il Messaggero.

The case continues.