News Story As It Appeared
KFSN TV & The Fresno Bee

Posted Jan 22, 2009

(Editors comments below stories)

Store Clerks Busted
By Sontaya RoseFresno, CA, USA (KFSN)

Lottery officials raided several mini marts today (1/21/09) in Fresno. Owners and clerks were taken away in handcuffs after undercover investigators say the suspects cheated would-be customers by lying about winning tickets.

Late last year officers posing as consumers showed up at many local mini marts to test their honesty. More than a dozen store owners and employees failed. Today, authorities caught up with them at the businesses they are accused of cheating potential customers.

One woman cried as she was taken to jail. Her father in law didn't say anything as he was loaded into a police patty wagon. Lottery officials said the pair attempted to steal $1,000 dollars by turning in a winning lottery ticket brought in by an undercover police officer.

They told the officer the ticket was worthless, then kept it and claimed the winnings themselves. "Sometimes the tickets might be confusing to some people or they are might be in a hurry. They are trusting the person behind the counter is going to tell them the proper amount," said Bill Hertogue with the California Lottery.

Unfortunately not everyone is playing by the rules.

Frequent lottery players we talked to at this Tesoro mini mart said this store was not one of their luckiest.

Sontaya asks, "have you ever won?" nope, not even two dollars, that's the reason I quit buying here."

Not only are the owners and store clerks facing serious criminal charges, they can no longer sell lottery tickets. In fact, just as the arrests were made, technicians carted away lottery ticket machines and equipment, including satellite technology from the roof.

Omar Casillas said he makes a habit of checking his tickets himself. "For that reason, for that same reason, you never know, ah, you didn't win and he keeps the ticket. See that's just what happened right here. So that's why they made the machines available and people should use them."

Lottery officials said it's best to check your tickets yourself and sign them immediately if they are winners. Otherwise you could be the one getting played. "You don't know the extent or how long this has been going on. Of course when you ask them this is the first and only time they've done this but you can't be for sure," said Hertogue.

The stores busted are also in jeopardy of losing their liquor license. Lottery representatives said the bogus tickets used in the sting appeared to be $1,000 dollar winners so many of the suspects will be charged with attempted grand theft. 0

The Fresno Bee
By Paula Lloyd
Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009

Thirteen employees of nine mini-marts in Fresno have been arrested on suspicion of pocketing lottery winnings, the California Lottery’s security and law enforcement division announced.

The employees allegedly told undercover officials posing as customers that their winning lottery tickets had not won. The employees later cashed the winning tickets themselves. The arrests took place Tuesday.

California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said investigators used decoy winning tickets. The Fresno Police Department, Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control assisted in the investigation and arrests.

Six of the mini-marts immediately lost their Lottery contracts, Traverso said. Those stores are: U&A Gas, 2929 N. Blackstone Ave.; Food King & Liquor, 1576 N. First St.; Bizzy Bee, 5202 Kings Canyon Road; Tesoro Mini Mart, 2429 E. McKinley Ave.; Stop-N-Shop, 3093 E. McKinley Ave.; and Mareb Liquors, 1805 E. Olive Ave.

Other store involved in the investigation are Midway Liquors, 7095 N. Blackstone Ave., Bal’s Liquor, 638 W. Olive Ave. and Fresno Liquor, 5595 E. Griffith Way.

A Very Important Message To Lottery Players
Opinions by Dawn Nettles - The Lotto Report

I cannot begin to tell you how many times - over many years - I have requested that the Texas Lottery forbid clerks from checking players lottery tickets.

Not only have I gone to the Texas Lottery, but I have gone to the Sunset Commission, the State Auditors Office and to quite a few Texas Legislators about this very issue - all requests fell upon deaf ears.

I have asked for a law to be written on this very issue - to no avail.

As early as 1999, I posted a list of things that the Texas Lottery needed to either do, or stop doing to either be fair to players or to protect players. (The link in the sentence above shows you ONLY one place this can be found on my website)

I have posted so many warnings to players about checking their own tickets - do not under any circumstances let someone else or ANY computer check your tickets. Check them yourself.

I have spent countless hours advising players NOT to use those web sites that gives players the so-called programs allowing you to "CHECK YOUR NUMBERS" via a database on the internet. This is because ONE incorrect number typed in by a "human" can cause players to throw away a winning ticket. Humans make mistakes even those who work at the lottery.

And please notice that NONE (that I've seen) of these "Check Your Numbers" features warn players by disclaimers that they are not responsible for any errors - they don't expect players to ever dream there could be a mistake. And they don't want to alert you to that possibility either. They don't want to DECREASE their unclaimed prize funds.

And don't think for one minute that the lotteries data bases are error free - because, clearly, they are NOT. And this is where you find these CHECK YOUR NUMBERS programs.

ONE incorrect number typed in by the player can result in a player throwing away a winning ticket. Do you have any idea how easy it is to make a typo?

Don't trust clerks to check your tickets either. They steal ... If you only knew how many people they see every day and the clerks know that the players have no idea what numbers were drawn. It is soooo easy for them to lie not to mention - tempting. Many clerks remain store clerk because of the "fringe benefits" of working there!

And finally, if clerks stealing is not bad enough, lottery terminals err in scanning tickets too. I have tickets and receipts that proves lottery terminals err. Sometimes, the lottery has admitted it but most of the time, they deny it. Those scanners are no different than the scanners you find in grocery stores. How many times have you seen a grocery store clerk have to type in a bar code in order to charge you for the product you are buying? Well, in the case of the lottery terminals that err, UNFORTUNATELY, the terminals say "NOT A WINNER" when the scanner errs. Clerks respond and report to you whatever message they get.

To make my point VERY clear - did you know that when the winner of a HUGE Mega Millions jackpot went to claim his prize in Ohio, when the Ohio Lottery scanned his ticket, the terminal said "NOT A WINNER." He knew better and the lottery said it was just a "hick-up in the computer system" - well, I don't believe that.

Personally, I believe it was suppose to say that as I believe the validation code was changed in HOPES that whoever held that ticket was a player who didn't check his own tickets but depended on the clerks or terminals to check the tickets for him. I often wonder IF this is why we have so many unclaimed JACKPOT winning tickets that go unclaimed. Of course, no one could ever PROVE this.

In closing, let me say, when it comes to MONEY, there is only one person you can trust - and that is yourself.

Check your own tickets.

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