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Florida shopkeeper accused of taking tourist's lottery winnings

Florida LotteryFlorida Lottery: Florida shopkeeper accused of taking tourist's lottery winnings

Naji Farah thought it was his lucky day: a $5,000 lottery prize.

The only problem, police say, the lottery ticket wasn't his.

The Miami Beach market owner is accused of scamming the rightful owner, telling the man the ticket was worth $600 and pocketing the rest.

Police arrested Farah, 45, this week on a charge of felony grand theft. And Florida lottery officials have suspended his store's license while the criminal charges are pending.

Miami Beach police say Farah took advantage of the customer, a Spanish-speaking tourist from Los Angeles who did not wish to be identified.

''We will not tolerate them taking advantage of our tourists or residents,'' said Deborah Doty, a police spokeswoman.

Authorities say the scam unfolded when the tourist and a friend stopped in at the Beach Food Market, 6618 Collins Ave., to check his Play 4 ticket.

Farah told him the ticket was worth $600. ''When he looked, nothing came up on the machine,'' said the victim. ''But he printed out this piece of paper that said I had won $600.''

'I didn't know'

Farah first told the men they needed to call Tallahassee or head to a Publix to find out about cashing the ticket.

''I didn't know how it worked here in Miami,'' said the victim, who has returned to Los Angeles. ''I asked him if there was a Publix close by and he said no.''

Then, the man said, Farah told him he could take care of cashing the ticket. Farah said he would pay out $380 and the man should return the next day for another $100. It was unclear why the victim agreed to accept less than the $600. The victim snapped a picture of the winning ticket and took the cash.

Later, the victim said he checked the ticket online and discovered its actual value. The friend went back to confront Farah, who said he had already cashed the ticket.

Farah could not be reached Thursday, but his brother, Sami Farah, co-owner of the store, said there was no scam.

''My brother felt like he was used,'' Sami Farah said. ''It was not stolen. It was not cheated. It's not like he told him it's not the winning ticket and he turned around and cashed it.''

Sami Farah said he heard the story from his brother and the customer. The two men walked into the store on Nov. 13 to check the ticket. The computer screen did not indicate how much the ticket was worth. Lottery officials confirm the computer will only say that the ticket is worth more than $599 — as a protection to customers. The amount cannot be doled out in stores.

The computer prints out a receipt and the lucky winner will be directed to a district office or to Tallahassee to claim the prize.

After being told just that, Sami Farah said, the victim left with the ticket and a receipt, but returned a short time later saying he didn't want to wait until the lottery offices opened.

''He said, 'We need money right now. We'll sell it if you give us money right now.' ''

So Naji Farah took $380 out of his pocket and gave it to the man, saying it was all he had and that the man could return the next day to get the rest.

According to the police affidavit, the victim's friend returned to the store when the true value of the ticket was discovered. Sami Farah said his brother was not trying to cheat the man, but instead was trying to do him a favor.

Different versions

He said they are a hard-working family, doing everything to keep the business open.

''We work seven days a week,'' he said. ''We work at the cash register, we mop the floors, we fill the milk box, we fill the beer box, we do everything physically. It's not like we're sitting in the office smoking cigars.''

The victim disputes Sami Farah's version.

''Why would I sell anyone a winning ticket? I'm not the type of person that's hungry for money. It doesn't make sense.''

The victim said the store owner now wants to negotiate.

'He's saying he wants to give me the $5,000, plus an extra $1, 000,'' the victim said. ''But I don't care. Even If I lose the money, I just don't want this to happen to anyone else.''

Thanks to Nino224 for the tip.

Miami Herald

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20 comments. Last comment 4 years ago by luisM.
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sully16's avatar - sharan
Listens to the wind

United States
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October 28, 2009
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Online
Posted: December 10, 2010, 7:54 am - IP Logged

check your own tickets people.

There's only one US Flag

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    Monkey Butt, USA
    United States
    Member #54569
    August 23, 2007
    1124 Posts
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    Posted: December 10, 2010, 9:21 am - IP Logged

    Naji Farah thought it was his lucky day: a $5,000 lottery prize.

    The only problem, police say, the lottery ticket wasn't his.

    The Miami Beach market owner is accused of scamming the rightful owner, telling the man the ticket was worth $600 and pocketing the rest.

    Police arrested Farah, 45, this week on a charge of felony grand theft. And Florida lottery officials have suspended his store's license while the criminal charges are pending.

    Miami Beach police say Farah took advantage of the customer, a Spanish-speaking tourist from Los Angeles who did not wish to be identified.

    ''We will not tolerate them taking advantage of our tourists or residents,'' said Deborah Doty, a police spokeswoman.

    Authorities say the scam unfolded when the tourist and a friend stopped in at the Beach Food Market, 6618 Collins Ave., to check his Play 4 ticket.

    Farah told him the ticket was worth $600. ''When he looked, nothing came up on the machine,'' said the victim. ''But he printed out this piece of paper that said I had won $600.''

    'I didn't know'

    Farah first told the men they needed to call Tallahassee or head to a Publix to find out about cashing the ticket.

    ''I didn't know how it worked here in Miami,'' said the victim, who has returned to Los Angeles. ''I asked him if there was a Publix close by and he said no.''

    Then, the man said, Farah told him he could take care of cashing the ticket. Farah said he would pay out $380 and the man should return the next day for another $100. It was unclear why the victim agreed to accept less than the $600. The victim snapped a picture of the winning ticket and took the cash.

    Later, the victim said he checked the ticket online and discovered its actual value. The friend went back to confront Farah, who said he had already cashed the ticket.

    Farah could not be reached Thursday, but his brother, Sami Farah, co-owner of the store, said there was no scam.

    ''My brother felt like he was used,'' Sami Farah said. ''It was not stolen. It was not cheated. It's not like he told him it's not the winning ticket and he turned around and cashed it.''

    Sami Farah said he heard the story from his brother and the customer. The two men walked into the store on Nov. 13 to check the ticket. The computer screen did not indicate how much the ticket was worth. Lottery officials confirm the computer will only say that the ticket is worth more than $599 — as a protection to customers. The amount cannot be doled out in stores.

    The computer prints out a receipt and the lucky winner will be directed to a district office or to Tallahassee to claim the prize.

    After being told just that, Sami Farah said, the victim left with the ticket and a receipt, but returned a short time later saying he didn't want to wait until the lottery offices opened.

    ''He said, 'We need money right now. We'll sell it if you give us money right now.' ''

    So Naji Farah took $380 out of his pocket and gave it to the man, saying it was all he had and that the man could return the next day to get the rest.

    According to the police affidavit, the victim's friend returned to the store when the true value of the ticket was discovered. Sami Farah said his brother was not trying to cheat the man, but instead was trying to do him a favor.

    Different versions

    He said they are a hard-working family, doing everything to keep the business open.

    ''We work seven days a week,'' he said. ''We work at the cash register, we mop the floors, we fill the milk box, we fill the beer box, we do everything physically. It's not like we're sitting in the office smoking cigars.''

    The victim disputes Sami Farah's version.

    ''Why would I sell anyone a winning ticket? I'm not the type of person that's hungry for money. It doesn't make sense.''

    The victim said the store owner now wants to negotiate.

    'He's saying he wants to give me the $5,000, plus an extra $1, 000,'' the victim said. ''But I don't care. Even If I lose the money, I just don't want this to happen to anyone else.''

    Thanks to Nino224 for the tip.

    He said vs He said. If only there was audio to go with the video in this story.

    Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

    This is why it is so important to know the rules of any lottery you play. This is why it is so important to know how the game pays the winners. Too many lottery players expecting to have their hand held when it comes to being paid.

    If you are going to play in a different state know the rules. In this day of available information there is no excuse. Plus the rules for payout are always printed on the back of the ticket.

    I want to see how this drama unfold and is resolved in the FL legal system.

      dpoly1's avatar - driver
      PA
      United States
      Member #66141
      October 16, 2008
      1434 Posts
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      Posted: December 10, 2010, 9:24 am - IP Logged

      Be very careful when in Florida ............

      Several years ago I stopped at a convenience store in Florida and the clerk asked me to give HIM my PIN number so that he could process my transaction as a debit!

      Needless to say, I told him that I wasn't an idiot and said to process it as a credit transaction!

      Florida is full of Scammers!

      I can scan my tickets at the counter as well as double check them myself here in PA!

        luckyshoes's avatar - scenery water_mountains.jpg
        Sea Lifes Beauty
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        Member #79502
        September 2, 2009
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        Online
        Posted: December 10, 2010, 10:11 am - IP Logged

        check your own tickets people.

        I totally agree.  Check them, sign them ! I like the clerks where I buy my tickets but they ve asked  me how much they re worth before they scanned them ..... even if they were only worth 40 bucks.

        Children who are born into happy families grow up speaking love as their native language.

          inittowin's avatar - 039ee315cfea4c12c8f5
          If you don't like it, spit it out!
          United States
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          May 23, 2004
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          Posted: December 10, 2010, 10:14 am - IP Logged

          You gotz to be smarter than the lottery ticket that you buy...Thud

            Illegitimi Non Carborundum!

          Patience & a progressive wagering plan WILL make you $$$!

            maringoman's avatar - kobold
            Massachusetts
            United States
            Member #37433
            April 14, 2006
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            Posted: December 10, 2010, 11:26 am - IP Logged

            I'd be upset if someone took advantage of me. It's good the <snip> was arrested.

            Just because the politicians are working overtime to take alll our money doesn't give the green light for shopkeepers to follow their example!

            This post has been automatically changed by the Lottery Post computer system to remove inappropriate content and/or spam.

            It's a futile effort.

              Grovel's avatar - f800e6a39fbfea795d1dcbb09f2244
              Little Rock, AR
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              December 19, 2008
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              Posted: December 10, 2010, 2:04 pm - IP Logged

              Hey perdue I have been meaning to ask you about your sig. Did you win 312 million? If so congrulations. I was hoping to be the first jackpot winner on LP though.

                dphillips's avatar - littleuns
                Albuquerque, New Mexico
                United States
                Member #5128
                June 18, 2004
                377 Posts
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                Posted: December 10, 2010, 4:35 pm - IP Logged

                What would make a Florida shopkeeper take someone's winnings?  First of all, stealing definitely isn't good public relations, and second of all, the shopkeeper didn't win the money.

                People are so darn impatient for their lottery ship to arrive that some of the shopkeeper's will throw all their morals and values to the wind. It's almost impossible not to get caught in this day and age of technology.

                See Ya!-- Bye, bye!  When you win, may you glow as brightly as theSun Smiley

                  Avatar
                  Monkey Butt, USA
                  United States
                  Member #54569
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                  Posted: December 10, 2010, 5:58 pm - IP Logged

                  Hey perdue I have been meaning to ask you about your sig. Did you win 312 million? If so congrulations. I was hoping to be the first jackpot winner on LP though.

                  Working on it. Sometimes it seems like I am on the slow boat to China to winnig my $342 million. lol

                  Don't give up hope you still got a shot at being the first.

                    HaveABall's avatar - rocket

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                    March 18, 2009
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                    Posted: December 10, 2010, 8:52 pm - IP Logged

                    He said vs He said. If only there was audio to go with the video in this story.

                    Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

                    This is why it is so important to know the rules of any lottery you play. This is why it is so important to know how the game pays the winners. Too many lottery players expecting to have their hand held when it comes to being paid.

                    If you are going to play in a different state know the rules. In this day of available information there is no excuse. Plus the rules for payout are always printed on the back of the ticket.

                    I want to see how this drama unfold and is resolved in the FL legal system.

                    Well, Perdue, there are millions of folks who continue to insist on residing in the U.S.A. the disrespectful, annoying, and lazy way -- without learning to speak and/or read the English language.  Unfortunately, via charging tax payers for double street signs, manufacturer's instructions, and translators at government offices this rude and eventually dangerous behavior probably won't be ceased any time soon.

                    Patriot

                    Having millions of dollars in my financial accounts means more, consistent fun for me.Lovies

                      HaveABall's avatar - rocket

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                      March 18, 2009
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                      Posted: December 10, 2010, 9:03 pm - IP Logged

                      It appears that Florida's Farah brothers have very dangerous feelings and thoughts concerning what is 'stealing,' 'using,' 'favoring/helping,' 'fair trading,' and what is 'making business'.  Reading about the Farah brothers comments, thoughts, and actions made me think of retching!

                      Drum

                      Having millions of dollars in my financial accounts means more, consistent fun for me.Lovies

                        RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                        mid-Ohio
                        United States
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                        17738 Posts
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                        Posted: December 10, 2010, 10:07 pm - IP Logged

                        I totally agree.  Check them, sign them ! I like the clerks where I buy my tickets but they ve asked  me how much they re worth before they scanned them ..... even if they were only worth 40 bucks.

                        Some clerks probably just want to make sure they have enough cash on hand to pay out before scanning the ticket unless they do as one place where I buy my tickets and payout in money orders if it's over $50.

                        * you don't need more tickets * 
                        * just the right ticket * 
                           Wink 

                          savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
                          adelaide sa
                          Australia
                          Member #37136
                          April 11, 2006
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                          Posted: December 11, 2010, 2:47 am - IP Logged

                          well it was kind of a mystery prize, anything over $599 isnt shown. it may well have been a $600 prize or anything above.

                          sure the shop owner went beyond what his duty is, thats to sell the stuff and make payouts when appropriate, haggling over what you will pay for a mystery ticket isnt in the terms of the lotto contrct.

                          he should have just done wht hes sp[osed to do , hand the recipt and tell the guy to take it to a pawn shop if he wants cash NOW

                          2014 winnings

                          JAN -$48.50;  FEB  -$77.5; MAR -$18.05;  APR -$96.05 MAY -$61.10; JUN $-85;

                            HaveABall's avatar - rocket

                            United States
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                            Posted: December 11, 2010, 6:42 pm - IP Logged


                            The article reads:  "Farah told him the ticket was worth $600. ''When he looked, nothing came up on the machine,'' said the victim. ''But he printed out this piece of paper that said I had won $600.''

                            I wonder what date AND time was listed on this 'receipt' for $600 [does anyone have a photo of it that they can upload for us?]  I wonder why the vacationing winner didn't also take a photo of this piece of paper before leaving the store for the final time that day.

                            Agree with stupidPuke

                            I wonder if the Farahs own more stores with lottery headquarter's terminal machines, where they continue to "help" their customers away from hundreds and thousands of dollars!

                            Having millions of dollars in my financial accounts means more, consistent fun for me.Lovies