Buying a lottery ticket and winning a big prize is exciting. Most players turn in their tickets right away to claim the win. Imagine winning and claiming your ticket, only to realize the sales clerk only paid a portion of your prize money.
This situation is precisely what happened to Amelia Smith in Boston. She was supposed to win $1,000, but the clerk gave her $500 instead. The lottery sales clerk at the Roslindale Food Mart, where she claimed her ticket, decided to cheat her out of the win.
Paying a Portion of the Prize
Smith was at the Food Mart when she decided to buy lottery tickets. She got into her car and realized that a $5 ticket was a winner. Smith went back inside the store to claim her winnings. The machine sounded that she had won, and when the pink slip emerged from the machine, the store’s employee grabbed it.
The clerk did not provide a validation slip or return the ticket to Smith. She had no idea exactly how much she had won. Instead, the clerk gave her $500, and that was that. Smith felt like something fishy was going on, so she contacted the lottery and the police.
Massachusetts Lottery executive director Michael Sweeney said that it appears the clerk took the slip, crumpled it up, and then kept it from the customer, paying her $500. Sweeney has estimated that Smith won $1,000.
Lottery investigators revealed that Smith tried to get the clerk to give her the remaining money on several occasions. Still, without the ticket, she was unsure as to what the amount was. Investigators uncovered that the clerk was trying to take the winnings for himself, based on his actions.
Sweeney said that from time to time, there are situations where there is an employee of a lottery retailer that acts criminally when paying out lottery tickets.
“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.”
Lottery officials ended up paying Smith the remainder of her winnings. The license of the store in question is under investigation.
Avoiding a Similar Situation
Millions of players buy lottery tickets every day and trust clerks to be honest when redeeming winning tickets. In most instances, clerks are happy to provide payment, and some even cheer their customers on when they win.
However, stories abound of lottery retailer employees trying to scam customers out of their winnings. Lottery players can significantly lessen the odds they fall victim to any number of lottery scams by taking photos of their tickets and confirming all winning numbers. For example, players can download the Massachusetts Lottery app to check their winning tickets and ensure they receive the correct payout.
Fortunately for Smith, she did not ignore the gut feeling she had that something wasn’t right with her payout. The situation worked in the end, but without the ticket or a receipt, it could have ended differently. The vast majority of retail cashiers are decent and honest people, but the moral of the story remains:
“Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.”