Store clerk attempts to pocket woman’s Lottery winnings and fails miserably
If you win money on a Lottery ticket, you best sign your name on it or hold on to it tightly until you do. It’s better not to go announcing it to the whole either before cashing it. But what do you do if a store clerk is the one trying to cheat you out of your winnings? A woman from Boston serves as an excellent example of what to do in that situation.
Amelia Smith had quite the experience this July after purchasing several Lottery scratch-offs at the Roslindale Food Mart. As most would, she went back to her car and began scratching them off in hopes of getting a lucky winner. The first successful one happened to be a $5 Gem Mine ticket.
As she kept scratching, she eventually realized that she’d won a lot more than that, "I had three lemons, three horseshoes… three keys on one,” Smith said. “I had three, three, three, you know, three symbols indicating that I won. My ticket made me excited, like woo, woo, woo!”
Sure enough, Amelia instantly headed back into the mart to acquire her prize. Although she wasn’t aware of exactly how much she had won, she was confident that it was no less than $500. As the clerk scanned her ticket, the machine released the short, promising theme song.
“It said beep, the sound of the machine, and then a pink slip came out, and he just grabbed it,” she stated. In addition to that, he crumpled it up and tossed it to the side.
Amelia was confused at the fact that he failed to hand her the winning validation slip and wouldn’t give back the Lottery ticket. Eventually, the clerk ended up giving her $500. The woman could tell that there was something odd going on and decided to investigate further.
"I called the lottery people and the police,” Amelia stated. Unfortunately, authorities did nothing besides asking questions to write the report. Thankfully, she didn’t give up and reached out to 5 investigates to resolve the issue, which resulted in them speaking to Michael Sweeney (executive director of the Massachusetts Lottery).
“It would appear that what (the clerk) did was he took the validation slip, kind of crumpled it up quickly, threw it away or otherwise disposed of it, kept it away from the customer, and attempted to pay her approximately $500 in cash,” Sweeney reported later.
He added that the clerk only handed her half of her winnings. "We do occasionally run into a situation where there seems to have been some level of malicious intent, if not outright criminality, potentially involved by someone at the store," he added.
At that point, the Lottery Investigators got involved and came to a conclusion that the clerk was clearly trying to sneakily withhold the winnings from Amelia.
The persistent woman kept confronting the clerk until he handed her the remainder of the winnings, which took several trips to the mart. And even then, he refused to hand her the ticket, leaving Amelia clueless about the actual number of her prize. “The theft, it's wrong,” she said. “I really feel like, oh my goodness, it's so wrong. You know, who can you trust?” she said later, adding that an honest hope for turning $5 into a million should not be a gamble.
The owner of the Food Mart refused to comment on what had happened, but it has been reported that the sneaky clerk has lost his job.
Soon after the incident, the lottery paid Amelia the remainder of her prize. As for the mart with the morally void clerk will be undergoing an investigation that may cost the business its license. As harsh as it may seem, this incident undermined the trust of customers, so confiscating a license may not be the worst punishment for this inconsiderate crime.
“Most of these are very hard-working individual owners… and they do a near-flawless job on a day-to-day basis... But it does happen, and when it happens, we take it seriously because the integrity of the product and customer satisfaction is of the highest concern for us.” Sweeney said.
Unfortunately, this is something that happens way too often, as it’s not too difficult for clerks to cheat customers out of their winnings. After a state audit was conducted, it was reported that there was a failure to run criminal background checks on more than 3,100 (32%) of clerks hired to sell/payout the Lottery tickets. This is an essential step that has to be taken every four years, but many have skipped this step for quite some time. To reassure existing as well as potential ticket buyers, the Lottery promised to enforce the process to avoid any future incidents.
If you purchase Lottery tickets, write your name on them immediately, and triple-check to figure out the exact number of your winnings before cashing them in. If you’re unsure of how to tell, you can either go online to do it or download a Ticket Checker app on your mobile device. And of course, always ask for a validation slip, as well as your original ticket after cashing out your prize.