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Massachusetts store clerk steals player's winning scratch-off ticket worth $1,000

Jul 20, 2021, 12:07 pm

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Massachusetts Lottery

Retailer worker cheats winner of half her prize

By Kate Northrop

A Massachusetts player reached out to the Massachusetts Lottery for help after allegedly being swindled of half her prize on a winning scratch-off ticket by a store clerk.

After winning a decent prize on a scratch-off lottery ticket, Amelia Smith said she was ripped off by the clerk at the Roslindale Food Mart when he crumpled the validation slip and cheated her of $500.

Smith visited the retailer on Washington Street in Roslindale and bought a bunch of scratch-off tickets. One of them, a $5 "Gem Mine 50X" ticket, won her a sizable prize.

"I had three lemons, three horseshoes... three keys on one," Smith recalled after playing the instant games in her car. "I had three, three, three, you know, three symbols indicating that I won. My ticket made me excited, like 'woo, woo, woo!'"

When she walked back into the store to claim her winnings, she was sure she won at least $500. The machine played a happy jingle when the clerk scanned her ticket and confirmed she was correct.

"It said, 'beep,' the sound of the machine, and then a pink slip came out, and he just grabbed it," Smith told 5 Investigates.

However, the clerk refused to give her both the winning validation slip and her lottery ticket.

The two quarreled over the incident, and after some time the clerk gave her $500 in cash. Despite walking away from the store with the money in-hand, Smith still felt that something was off.

"I called the lottery people and the police," she said.

Besides typing up a police report, the Boston Police were of little help. However, the Lottery investigated the issue further.

"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," Lottery Director Michael Sweeney said in an interview with WCVB.

Sweeney confirmed that the lottery ticket was worth $1,000, not $500.

"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," Sweeney continued. "Most [retailer employees] 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."

According to Lottery investigators, the clerk at the Roslindale Food Mart tried to keep Smith's ticket to cash in on the winnings for himself. However, Smith did not let up. She made multiple trips to the store, after which the clerk gave her more money, but she still did not know how much she actually won since she did not have her winning lottery ticket.

In the end, the Lottery fully paid out the prize Smith deserved, and the clerk who stole the ticket was reportedly fired from his job. The store's lottery retailer license is also under investigation.

"The theft — it's wrong," Smith said, exasperated. "I really feel like, oh my goodness, it's so wrong. You know, who can you trust?"

The Lottery highly recommends that players take a photo of the front and back of their tickets and download the Lottery's mobile app to check winnings on their phone.

The $5 "Gem Mine 50X" game that Smith played offers three top prizes of $1 million, 210 second prizes of $2,000, and 2,940 third prizes of $1,000.

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