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Lottery heartbreak: Florida man says he lost $500,000 ticket

Florida LotteryFlorida Lottery: Lottery heartbreak: Florida man says he lost $500,000 ticket
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WELLINGTON, Fla. — Florida Lottery security officials have opened an investigation into the case of a 69-year-old Wellington man who lost a scratch-off ticket worth $500,000.

But it's too early to tell if Louis Tolentino will get the money.

"They have begun an investigation, but there's nothing conclusive at this time," said Laurie Wright, spokeswoman for The Florida Lottery.

Tolentino is behind on his mortgage. His maintenance payments are past due. Medical bills are mounting.

His $500,000 scratch-off ticket would have solved all his problems. But as fast and easy as it came, it was gone, and he is in mourning.

"They're gonna see what they can do," he said Monday, his voice shaky. He said he was too distraught to say any more.

The retiree set out to cash the ticket Wednesday at a local Florida Lottery office but lost it, along with his hope of getting up-to-date with his bills.

"I'm sick. Now I owe everybody," said Tolentino, a onetime New York City garbage truck driver who said Social Security is his only source of income. "That ticket was God sent."

Tolentino said he wrapped the ticket in some papers and put it in his back pocket on his way to the lottery office.

When he got to the place he thought the office was in West Palm Beach, he realized it had moved. He stopped at a gas station to ask for directions.

"There was someone in line behind me that got very close to me," he said.

But Tolentino was in such a rush to cash his ticket, he left for the new address. He ended up not finding it.

"I went home and put the car in the garage and checked my back pocket," he said. "It wasn't there. I took the car apart, ripped my arms up. It wasn't there."

Tolentino bought the Gold Rush ticket at Gold Coast Liquors on Lake Worth Road, across the street from the Wycliffe Country Club community where he lives with his wife, Sandra. He retired nine years ago.

When he scratched off the ticket, he wasn't sure he had won.

"I thought I had maybe won $50," he said. "But there was another zero, and then another and another."

Still unsure, Tolentino headed to the liquor store to find out exactly how big his prize was.

"The machine printed out a confirmation ticket, which confirmed he had won the $500,000," said Larry Hillard, a clerk at the store who was not there when Tolentino came in with his ticket. "My understanding is a scratch-off ticket is like a bearer bond: Whoever has it, has the money."

Tolentino doesn't have much hope that someone will return the ticket. He said he filed a report with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and called the Florida Lottery.

Tolentino said it was a mistake not to write his name and address on the back of the ticket. Lottery officials agree.

"That's the surest way that you can make a claim for that ticket," Wright said.

She said winning tickets go missing occasionally and are resolved on a case-by-case basis.

Tolentino is now heartbroken.

"I was so happy, in such a rush to get the money," he said. "Now I can't sleep. I haven't eaten in four days."

But he'll give this a try: "I do hope the Lotto people let me cash this with the confirmation ticket" from the liquor store, he said. "They got the proof."

Sun Sentinel

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38 comments. Last comment 5 years ago by dopey7719.
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NBey6's avatar - Lottery-031.jpg

United States
Member #4290
April 9, 2004
15720 Posts
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Posted: August 3, 2009, 3:41 pm - IP Logged

What a devastating thing to have happen to you and there is a lesson in it for all of us. Do your research before you win, regarding where you have to go and why. Take someone with you (spouse, child over 18 of course), sign the ticket right away and copy, copy, copy your winning ticket along with the confirmation ticket, if given one. I always copy my tickets worth more than $500.

I will say a special prayer for this gentleman!

Blue Angel

I AM......

 Clover Thumbs Up 


 

    CARBOB's avatar - FL LOTTERY_LOGO.png
    ORLANDO, FLORIDA
    United States
    Member #4924
    June 3, 2004
    4381 Posts
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    Posted: August 3, 2009, 4:03 pm - IP Logged

    I can only hope and pray the poor soul doesn't have an heart attack from all the stress and the Florida Lottery accepts the confirmation slip.

      Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
      Clarksville
      United States
      Member #487
      July 15, 2002
      17638 Posts
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      Posted: August 3, 2009, 5:03 pm - IP Logged

      I hope they investigate and find out he is the true winner of the money.  There are just too many thieves around ..just waiting for an opportunity to relieve us of our money..what little we have.

      If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

      You never know when you will get another hit.

        DC81's avatar - batman39
        MI
        United States
        Member #54830
        August 31, 2007
        977 Posts
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        Posted: August 3, 2009, 6:59 pm - IP Logged

        I saw this on CNN earlier..... Why oh why would you leave something like that in your back pocket??

        You can't predict random.

          ThatScaryChick's avatar - 61A4sr9 jpg?1

          United States
          Member #56506
          November 21, 2007
          4723 Posts
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          Posted: August 3, 2009, 7:30 pm - IP Logged

          I saw this on CNN earlier..... Why oh why would you leave something like that in your back pocket??

          That's what I am wondering. Especially, when it's something worth half a million dollars. No Nod

          "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

            larry3100's avatar - larry icon2.jpg
            Redwood City,California
            United States
            Member #70503
            February 3, 2009
            162 Posts
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            Posted: August 3, 2009, 8:09 pm - IP Logged

            My god !. What's wrong with this guy. He should have put the ticket in his wallet. All men have wallets. Right ?. I wish him luck getting his money.Eek

              RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
              mid-Ohio
              United States
              Member #9
              March 24, 2001
              18019 Posts
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              Posted: August 3, 2009, 8:30 pm - IP Logged

              "I do hope the Lotto people let me cash this with the confirmation ticket" from the liquor store, he said. "

              He should have protected the real ticket as well as he protected that confirmation ticket. 

              I've seen this before, a player will have an old playslip with his favorite numbers and he'll protect it better than the ticket he buys saying "I can't afford to lose this playslip 'cause it has my favorite numbers on it" even though the playslip isn't proof of the numbers he played.

              * you don't need more tickets, just the right ticket * 
              * your best chance at winning a lottery jackpot is to buy a ticket * 
                   Wink 

                duckman's avatar - ducklogodrake64x64
                Jacksonville Florida
                United States
                Member #23018
                October 6, 2005
                752 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: August 3, 2009, 9:32 pm - IP Logged

                I saw this on the news also. If the news stories are correct in their facts, eventually he will get the money. He does have the confirmation ticket which the lottery terminal printed out when the ticket was scanned. He also has a witness (the store clerk) who scanned the ticket. I'm sure the clerk noticed it was a big winner. The question is how long it will take the lottery to conduct the investigation.

                If someone else submits the ticket for payment, the lottery will not pay out immediately as there is an investigation going on for that ticket. After the news exposure, if someone did steal the ticket, the thief hopefully realizes he or she is setting themself up for possible theft and fraud charges if the try to claim the winnings. If the ticket fell out of the guy's pocket and someone else found it on the ground and says it it theirs, then it is more complicated and may end up in court to decide who gets what.

                If no one else submits the winning ticket, the lottery could delay payout until after that particular scratch-off game ends and the extra 60-day period to claim winning tickets after game-end has expired.

                As many have said many times on Lottery Post, SIGN the ticket, copy the ticket, and protect the ticket...

                  ohiopick3's avatar - shamrocker
                  Ohio
                  United States
                  Member #3023
                  December 14, 2003
                  4077 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: August 3, 2009, 9:54 pm - IP Logged

                  Good "Luck" to this person?

                  Yes, I hope the confirmation receipt will stand for him in court or from the lottery commission.

                  If a "confirmation receipt" was given, It would "void" out any other cashable ticket with the same code on it.

                  But, if I won that much, I would have at least 2 or 3 people with me on the way to the lottery headquarters.

                  And not be driving alone. Anything more than that, I'd be talking to an attorney first.

                  It's hard to believe that a "confirmation ticket" would be processed at a liquor store for that amount?

                  In Ohio, they cannot give you a confirmation over a $5,000 prize.

                  I guess that Florida might be different?

                  I hope he gets the cash. But, they may wait until the very last minute on the deadline for the ticket?

                    Avatar
                    NY
                    United States
                    Member #23835
                    October 16, 2005
                    2863 Posts
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                    Posted: August 3, 2009, 10:06 pm - IP Logged

                    Signing the ticket would certainly prevent somebody else from cashing it, but at the very least the lottery office will do a thorough security check before paying anyone else who presents the ticket. Whether a confirmation ticket is issued or not, if a winning ticket  is scanned in a lottery terminal the lottery should have a record that identifies that ticket, along with when and where it was scanned. Unless somebody else can produce the ticket and tell the lottery office when and where it was scanned and where it was bought, the guy probably has a decent shot at collecting the money.

                      Avatar
                      Monkey Butt, USA
                      United States
                      Member #54569
                      August 23, 2007
                      1124 Posts
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                      Posted: August 3, 2009, 10:33 pm - IP Logged

                      Oh Waaaaaa Waaaaaa!!!! What a common sob story. If you don't have the common sense to sign your ticket and put it in a safe place then I have no pity for your stupidity and carelessness. If he lost it then good!!! I bet he's not as careless with his social security check. I bet he was not as careless with his paycheck when he worked. Nor is he as careless with his income tax check. And if he was that absentminded then he should have taken his wife along. If his pocket was picked, then it was probably someone who heard him running his mouth.

                      Do I feel sorry for him, NO-NO-NO. Why, because he was careless. My heart goes out to his wife who must by now realize the type of man she is married to. If he is this careless with a half-million dollar ticket, then if they ever get the money she should hold the purse strings. That way he don't lose the bank card and someone ends up going on a shopping spree at their expense and we have to waste valuable air time listening to another sob story brought on by his stupidity and carelessness. I mean GOOD GRIEF LUIS TOLENTINO!!!!!! YOU'RE SUCH A BLOCKHEAD!!!!!!!

                      Everyday I pray that I don't forget to take my anti-dumbazz pill that way I don't end up doing something as dumbazz as this.

                        Avatar
                        Espanola NM
                        United States
                        Member #72722
                        March 25, 2009
                        133 Posts
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                        Posted: August 3, 2009, 10:46 pm - IP Logged

                        Technically the lottery doesn't have to pay unless the instructions of claiming are followed.  Most require the actual ticket.   Now if someone returns with the actual ticket or scratcher.....then the lottery is obligated to pay.

                        Here in NM...it clearly states the ticket is bearer instrument until signed.  Also ONLY the actual ticket can be used to make a claim.   Payslips, etc are not legal tender.  That is why most lottery tickets have the fine print at the back of the ticket with all that legal jumbo.  I don't think they write all that stuff on the back of the ticket for their health.  I just bought a ticket and the back clearly states:

                        Ticket is a bearer instrument until signed.

                        NMLA is not responsible for lost, stolen, misdirected tickets.

                        The ticket, not the payslip, shall be the only valid proof of the selections made and the only valid receipt for claiming a prize

                        Also I don't know about Florida.   But most claims/confirmations regarding amounts over $600 are done at the lottery HQ.   Not at a retailer.

                        IMHO in order to prevent stuff like this from occuring the lottery needs to remove the bearer instrument/signature requirement.  They need to say that in the future proof of purchase is required.  Either that or require contact info at the time of purchase that way it is easier to prove who really owns a ticket.

                          wannawin24's avatar - Lottery-001.jpg
                          GA
                          United States
                          Member #33582
                          February 22, 2006
                          1026 Posts
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                          Posted: August 3, 2009, 11:31 pm - IP Logged

                          Oh Waaaaaa Waaaaaa!!!! What a common sob story. If you don't have the common sense to sign your ticket and put it in a safe place then I have no pity for your stupidity and carelessness. If he lost it then good!!! I bet he's not as careless with his social security check. I bet he was not as careless with his paycheck when he worked. Nor is he as careless with his income tax check. And if he was that absentminded then he should have taken his wife along. If his pocket was picked, then it was probably someone who heard him running his mouth.

                          Do I feel sorry for him, NO-NO-NO. Why, because he was careless. My heart goes out to his wife who must by now realize the type of man she is married to. If he is this careless with a half-million dollar ticket, then if they ever get the money she should hold the purse strings. That way he don't lose the bank card and someone ends up going on a shopping spree at their expense and we have to waste valuable air time listening to another sob story brought on by his stupidity and carelessness. I mean GOOD GRIEF LUIS TOLENTINO!!!!!! YOU'RE SUCH A BLOCKHEAD!!!!!!!

                          Everyday I pray that I don't forget to take my anti-dumbazz pill that way I don't end up doing something as dumbazz as this.

                          Careless is forgetting to lock your front door at night or leave your car door open and your battery goes dead. But this man had the ticket in HIS OWN back pocket.  So, if as he stated someone got close to him that does not give them the right to take it.  Come on have a heart.

                           

                          My NUMBER FELL!!!
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                            DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
                            Yinzer Country, PA
                            United States
                            Member #4067
                            March 18, 2004
                            2733 Posts
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                            Posted: August 3, 2009, 11:36 pm - IP Logged

                            Ok.  I'm not saying that this guy is or is not lying about the story, but do we all remember who Elecia Battle was?  If not, look her up.  Her story is pretty similar to this guy's.

                            I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.