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Victim of stolen Texas lottery ticket says he knows how to get money back

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Tx. — Willis Willis has an idea how he can get his money back from the store clerk who authorities say stole his $1 million winning lottery ticket.

"Just get me in a room with him for two minutes," says the 67-year-old Navy veteran.

Willis was back home in Grand Prairie on Tuesday after a meeting with Texas Lottery Commission officials Monday in Austin in which his attorneys tried unsuccessfully to collect the winnings.

It was a meeting that only seemed to add confusion and frustration to the already bizarre case.

Commission officials told Willis that they consider the store clerk, Pankaj Joshi, the rightful winner because Joshi signed and redeemed the ticket as required, Willis' attorney said.

Joshi was indicted in Travis County on charges of claiming a lottery prize by fraud. Prosecutors there say Willis is the winner and hope to return to him about $365,000 they have seized from Joshi's bank accounts.

A spokesman said the Lottery Commission does not comment on pending legal claims.

Willis' attorney, Sean E. Breen, said Tuesday: "I think the Lottery Commission is more concerned with covering their own behinds than making sure Mr. Willis gets the money. We will move forward with all legal remedies."

Willis, who has played the same Mega Millions numbers for years, bought the winning ticket May 29 at the Lucky Food Store at 902 Great Southwest Parkway in Grand Prairie, authorities said.

Willis returned to the Lucky Food Store on May 31 to have the Mega Millions ticket and two Cash 5 tickets scanned, because he had not been able to locate the winning numbers.

Joshi scanned the tickets — the Mega Millions ticket was a $1 million winner — but gave Willis only $2 for one of the Cash 5 tickets, authorities said.

Joshi later went to Austin and cashed in the Mega Millions ticket, receiving $750,000 after taxes, a search warrant affidavit said. Joshi, a former student at the University of Texas at Arlington, is believed to have gone back to his native Nepal, authorities said.

The case is starting to draw national media attention. Dateline NBC interviewed Willis on Tuesday. Afterward, he met with local reporters at the Grand Prairie Moose Lodge, where he is a member.

In a denim shirt and a U.S. Navy cap pulled over his graying hair, Willis sat in the lodge's bingo hall and said the episode has left him feeling violated. But he was trying to keep things in perspective.

"I didn't have the money at first; I still don't have the money now," he said. "I definitely want it....  If I don't get it, I'm not going to cry about it."

Willis said he was hardly looking to go on a spending spree. The former apartment maintenance worker said he has medical bills, a daughter entering college who could use help with tuition and a tooth that badly needs a root canal.

"Those are the priorities in my life," he said.

Willis said he did not know Joshi well, although he had seen him behind the counter. Willis visited the store often and knew the manager and assistant manager by name. He cashed payroll checks there, and when he asked store clerks to check his lottery tickets in the past, they told him when he won $5 or $10 prizes. He said he was unaware he could check the winning numbers online.

"I always got my money, no questions asked," he said. "There was a trust."

Willis seems likely to get at least the $365,000 seized by Travis County prosecutors. Assistant prosecutor Patty Robertson said Tuesday that the Lottery Commission's view that Joshi is the winner does not affect the allegation that he committed fraud to win it.

"I don't believe the Lottery Commission is trying to claim ownership of the seized funds," she said. "We will be asking the court to return the funds to Mr. Willis."

As Willis spoke to reporters at the Moose Lodge, his friends stood in the next room and watched. They said they are astounded at the twists and turns in Willis' efforts to get his jackpot.

"We are real happy for him that he won," lodge member John Sauber said. "We sure hope someone sets it right for him."

Willis told reporters that he is willing to be patient. If it takes a year, he won't give up, he said.

He also won't stop playing the lottery. In fact, he bought five Mega Millions tickets Tuesday, he said.

"See if I can pull one more rabbit out of a hat," he said.

News story photo(Click to display in gallery)

Fort Worth Star Telegram

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31 comments. Last comment 7 years ago by rdgrnr.
Page 1 of 3
RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
mid-Ohio
United States
Member #9
March 24, 2001
19825 Posts
Offline
Posted: November 4, 2009, 9:35 am - IP Logged

I hope Willis Willis doesn't end up like other similar victims I read about a few years back who eventually owed their lawyer more money than they ended up getting.

 * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
   
             Evil Looking       

    The Texan's avatar - TexasFlag1
    New Member
    D/FW Texas
    United States
    Member #71145
    February 19, 2009
    9 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: November 4, 2009, 9:47 am - IP Logged

    I never see anything that even remotely hits home...yet I live off of Great Southwest Parkway in Grand Prairie...I live literally 3/4 mile from that store...I NEED TO PAY IT A VISIT!!

      rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
      Texas
      United States
      Member #55889
      October 23, 2007
      5595 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: November 4, 2009, 9:49 am - IP Logged

      I have always felt the Tx Lottery Comm was very honest and transparent, but this really disappoints me. It seems they don't care who the rightful owner is.

        JAP69's avatar - alas
        South Carolina
        United States
        Member #6
        November 4, 2001
        8790 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: November 4, 2009, 9:55 am - IP Logged

        Why has Willis not filed a police report for stolen property against the guy? Then it becomes a matter of police investigation for grand theft.
        An unsigned ticket is still your property when it is your possession even though he had the clerk scan it. When you go to the clerk and hand the clerk cash for a purchase you expect your change back.

        MAGA

          rdgrnr's avatar - walt
          Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
          United States
          Member #73904
          April 28, 2009
          14903 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: November 4, 2009, 10:03 am - IP Logged

          I have always felt the Tx Lottery Comm was very honest and transparent, but this really disappoints me. It seems they don't care who the rightful owner is.

          It's apparent that the TLC is taking the tack of not setting a precedent to avoid facing problems like this in the future.

          I think they would be wiser to just give the man his money for the sake of public relations and credibility if nothing else.

          It's called doing the right thing.

          If you could get people together and boycott the lottery, I bet they'd give him the money right away.


                                                       
                               
                                                   

           

           

           

           

                                                                                                             

          "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                      --Edmund Burke

           

           

            konane's avatar - wallace
            Atlanta, GA
            United States
            Member #1265
            March 13, 2003
            3333 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: November 4, 2009, 10:39 am - IP Logged

            Agree with JAP, he should have filed a police report already. 

            I'm missing one thing in this story .... what proof does Mr. Willis have that the ticket belonged to him?  Did either article state that Mr. Willis had played the same numbers over and over, therefore had non-winning tickets to back up his claims?  Or did it mention that Mr. Willis had a copy of the ticket?

            Still seems to come down to one basic thing, check your tickets yourself .. always .... and don't let it leave your hands until you turn it in at the lottery office.

            Good luck to everyone!

              Captain Lotto's avatar - CaptLotto
              Jefferson City, MO
              United States
              Member #55250
              September 20, 2007
              97 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: November 4, 2009, 10:47 am - IP Logged

              The Lottery already paid the prize to the crook.  A lottery ticket is a bearers instrument.  Sign your ticket before handing it over to someone you don't know. 

              While it's a shame, the Lottery has no legal recourse.  Someone claimed the ticket.  It's up to us individually to protect ourselves from unscrupulous people.

              Captain Lotto

              "Every day is a good day!"

                Avatar
                Northern California
                United States
                Member #19948
                August 9, 2005
                151 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: November 4, 2009, 11:34 am - IP Logged

                Captain Lotto is right - there are good reasons why the procedures are set up the way they are. The Lottery will never win getting in the middle of "who gave the ticket to who, who really owns it", etc. Their job is to validate the ticket that is presented to make sure that it is indeed the winning ticket and then to pay the prize promptly. C'mon kids, we have to take a little responsibility for ourselves.

                 

                You have to have the ticket (in almost all cases - not a copy). You have to sign it (that makes it yours).

                 

                Here's an extra clue...if the machine makes an audible tone and/or especially if the printer starts printing - you won something on (at least on a GTECH system). Ask to see the printed winner receipt.

                 

                On a claim (over $599) , it will say to go claim your prize - on really big win, it won't show the amount (which will tell you the ticket is worth even more). Sign it right away when you buy it - and certainly before you hand it to anyone.

                  fbird's avatar - nw archer.jpg
                  White Lake,Mi
                  United States
                  Member #1495
                  May 12, 2003
                  5546 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: November 4, 2009, 11:59 am - IP Logged

                  The Lottery already paid the prize to the crook.  A lottery ticket is a bearers instrument.  Sign your ticket before handing it over to someone you don't know. 

                  While it's a shame, the Lottery has no legal recourse.  Someone claimed the ticket.  It's up to us individually to protect ourselves from unscrupulous people.

                  I've just never understood how someone could just hand a ticket over to someone else, that they don't know...when it could possibly be worth big money ?? Too many people out there waiting to scam you !

                  VAL

                  Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me: I may not follow.

                  Just walk beside me and be my friend.

                            Albert Camus

                    TnTicketlosers's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg

                    United States
                    Member #71120
                    February 19, 2009
                    1209 Posts
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                    Posted: November 4, 2009, 12:44 pm - IP Logged

                    Open a can of whoop ass ole boy!

                      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                      mid-Ohio
                      United States
                      Member #9
                      March 24, 2001
                      19825 Posts
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                      Posted: November 4, 2009, 2:58 pm - IP Logged

                      This type of crime could be stopped if lottery commissions were serious about stopping it.

                      In Ohio, some stores return tickets to their customers after they are checked even if a prize is won and paid.  The clerks in these stores just keep the receipt for their records while other stores keep both tickets and receipts.  If lottery commissions established a policy that required all stores to return all tickets to their customers after checking them then this would never happen.

                       * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                         
                                   Evil Looking       

                        NITEHAWK61's avatar - wings2
                        WESTCHESTER/NEW YORK
                        United States
                        Member #25041
                        October 31, 2005
                        106 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: November 4, 2009, 3:15 pm - IP Logged

                        I like the lottery machines in Connecticut. They scan the ticket and a voice says "congratulations you won $24.00".

                        then there is no confusion!!!

                        .

                          TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
                          A long and winding road
                          United States
                          Member #17084
                          June 10, 2005
                          4526 Posts
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                          Posted: November 4, 2009, 4:53 pm - IP Logged

                          Okay to those who gleen the news information.

                          Joshi WAS CONVICTED . That means He was found guilty of the charge of fraud.Which equates to the judicial system had enough evidence to find guilt.ALong with a warrant. So stop it with the Lottery isnt involved, even the judicial system agrees that fraud transpired. THe Lottery had to at some point fork over the information to the judicial system to get the conviction. It wasnt just heresay folks!

                          The reality is The rightful purchaser of the ticket was defrauded by the cashier. He is now having to be caught up in litigation to get what was rightfully his from the get go.

                          I am rooting for victory for this man and redeemption for his delay in FULL payment!

                          ~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

                           Thanks be to the giving numbers: 1621,912,119 02014

                            Avatar
                            California
                            United States
                            Member #80929
                            October 7, 2009
                            94 Posts
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                            Posted: November 4, 2009, 7:53 pm - IP Logged

                            "Joshi WAS CONVICTED . That means He was found guilty of the charge of fraud."

                            No, Pankaj Joshi was only indicted, not convicted.  First he must be found, then extradited, then tried, then convicted.  Each of these steps will take months.  Extradition alone, if Joshi fights it, could take months.  In addition, during each of these steps, Joshi's lawyer will cost money, lots of money, lots and lots.  Guess where Joshi will draw this money from?  Yes, that's right.  You guessed it.  He will draw it from "his" lotto winnings.  By the time Joshi is finally convicted, there will be nothing left of the money he absconded with.