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Lottery payout complicated by laser printer mishap

May 14, 2010, 7:54 am

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Texas LotteryTexas Lottery: Lottery payout complicated by laser printer mishapRating:

Sign ticket with pen: Good

Use laser printer to 'type' endorsement: Bad

While the identity of the man who won a $48.8 million lottery prize in Alvin remains unknown to the public, a report released Tuesday by the Texas Lottery Commission shows the steps the agency took to verify the ticket's authenticity after it was damaged in a mishap with a laser jet printer.

The mystery man purchased his Texas Lottery ticket Oct. 18 from a self-service machine at the H-E-B Pantry grocery store in Alvin, where he was shopping with his wife and two children, the report shows. But after he became the sole winner of the jackpot on Oct. 21, he traveled a long road as he waited to see whether the commission would really pay up.

That's because his good fortune soured when he placed his winning ticket in a laser printer to type an endorsement on the back, the report shows. The heat generated by the printer turned the data on the front of the ticket black.

Forensics used

On Dec. 17, the ticket holder, acting through a group called MAED Trust, presented the damaged ticket — along with a second, non-winning lottery ticket purchased at the same time and place — to the commission to claim his money. The Lottery Operations Division's Security Department did forensic exams and verification efforts on the ticket, while the agency's Enforcement Division investigated the facts surrounding its purchase and damage.

Forensics analysis found some data still visible on the damaged ticket, including a partial retailer number, but some digits on the ticket were missing.

"Other than the damage to the front of the ticket making portions unreadable, visual inspection did not reveal any inconsistencies or evidence that should not have been present on a ticket for the prize claim," the commission's report states.

Enforcement investigators also took written sworn statements from the ticket purchaser; his attorney, Frank Putman of Houston; Putman's assistant; and a friend of the winner, who were all familiar with the circumstances of the case.

The purchaser and his friend were at the gym together the day after the lottery drawing when the ticket holder saw a TV report displaying the winning numbers. The numbers matched a ticket the man had, and he showed it to his friend, investigators learned. The ticket holder later contacted Putman, who called the commission.

The ticket holder also handed over photos of the winning ticket that he had taken before it was damaged, even though photos are not by themselves "acceptable evidence" to submit instead of an actual ticket as a claim for the lottery prize, the report shows. But the ticket data visible in the pictures were consistent with the ticket data reconstructed by forensic analysts.

Enforcement investigators also viewed H-E-B's security camera recordings showing the man buying the ticket at the time the transaction was recorded on the central computer system. They also examined a receipt showing the ticket holder's purchase of groceries at the store around the same time. Furthermore, the tear line between the damaged winning ticket and the non-damaged ticket he purchased matched, investigators found.

Security officials then performed a query for all transactions recorded on the self-service machine at the H-E-B on the date of purchase. They found only two of the 12 transactions made on the machine that day were for wagers, both being for Lotto Texas tickets. The serial number for the first transaction matched the non-winning ticket submitted by the purchaser, while the winning ticket was purchased eight seconds later, the report shows.

Investigators also found the serial numbers found on the back of the tickets indicated the roll stock paper used was assigned to an H-E-B store 9 miles away in nearby Santa Fe. Representatives for both H-E-B retailers confirmed the roll stock paper had been transferred from the Santa Fe store to the Alvin store when the latter location ran out of paper for its self-service lottery ticket machine.

Paid on Monday

On May 3 — more than six months after the ticket's purchase — the commission agreed to pay the money to the ticket holder. Although the total jackpot was for $76 million, the winner collected $48,877,977.02 because he had chosen the "Cash Value Option," allowing him to collect a lesser amount in one lump sum instead of opting for a 25-year payout.

The winner collected his money on Monday. His name has not been released.

The names of people connected to MAED Trust also remained a mystery Tuesday. Officials with the Texas Department of Banking and Texas Secretary of State say they have no paperwork on file for a trust by that name. R. Sells Neuhaus is listed as the trust's vice president, but he is not the man who bought the winning lottery ticket.

Thanks to lottoball for the tip.

Houston Chronicle

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33 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by KY Floyd.
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Raven62's avatar - binary
25
New Jersey
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June 28, 2005
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Posted: May 14, 2010, 8:54 am - IP Logged

Before handling Paper: It's important to know what Type of Paper it is: In this case the Lottery Ticket was printed on Thermal Paper with a Thermal Printer. Applying Heat to a Thermal Paper Lottery Ticket will all but make it Illegible and make it all but Impossible to Claim the Prize Money if not for Forensics.

A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

    sully16's avatar - sharan
    25
    Ringleader
    Michigan
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    Posted: May 14, 2010, 9:00 am - IP Logged

    Good to know Raven, thanks.

    US Flag

      Captain Lotto's avatar - CaptLotto
      Jefferson City, MO
      United States
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      September 20, 2007
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      Posted: May 14, 2010, 9:49 am - IP Logged

      The more you know...

      You can also damage Lottery tickets with other heat sources.  An iron, for instance.  Putting it in the microwave when it gets wet is also a bad idea...  you must present a ticket to have a claim. 

      This guy was really lucky there was such a "trail" and all the different pieces came together.

      Captain Lotto

      "Every day is a good day!"

        liberal47's avatar - Rowlf
        Holt MI
        United States
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        September 4, 2003
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        Posted: May 14, 2010, 10:04 am - IP Logged

        When I had my big score, I scanned my ticket on my inkjet HP printer. No problems there. Then I put the ticket in a ziplock baggie, and then into my no fly zone. That's an area that I always know will be taken care of. My big fear with using a public copier would be forgetting to take the original ticket out of the copier once I had the copies.

          Avatar
          Chattanooga, TN
          United States
          Member #74192
          May 5, 2009
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          Posted: May 14, 2010, 10:37 am - IP Logged

          Before handling Paper: It's important to know what Type of Paper it is: In this case the Lottery Ticket was printed on Thermal Paper with a Thermal Printer. Applying Heat to a Thermal Paper Lottery Ticket will all but make it Illegible and make it all but Impossible to Claim the Prize Money if not for Forensics.

          Also do not leave your ticket in a car in the spring or summer months or in direct sunlight... Always bring your ticket inside and store in a cool dark place... i had a $150.00 powerball winner that i almost could not clame because the barcode was damaged due to leaving it in the car. thankfully they manually entered the numbers and i got my money!!!

            dpoly1's avatar - driver
            PA
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            Posted: May 14, 2010, 11:28 am - IP Logged

            I always print my name and sign my ticket with a good pen. I then keep my ticket safely in my empty wallet!

            US Flag

              konane's avatar - wallace
              Atlanta, GA
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              Posted: May 14, 2010, 11:34 am - IP Logged

              The winner was really lucky the lottery had so many forensic methods for ticket  authentication.  Congratulations to the winner!

              Have fun and the best of luck to everyone! Sun Smiley

                RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                50
                mid-Ohio
                United States
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                March 24, 2001
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                Posted: May 14, 2010, 12:38 pm - IP Logged

                The only things I do to my winning tickets are highlight the winning numbers with a pink marker and sign them.  So far I haven't had a problem claiming my winnings which lately have only been $150 or less.

                 * you don't need to buy every combination, just the winning ones * 

                Thumbs Up       

                  LotteryJunkiE99's avatar - Lottery-025.jpg

                  United States
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                  March 23, 2009
                  63 Posts
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                  Posted: May 14, 2010, 1:24 pm - IP Logged

                  Wow, what  a Juicy STORY!  And Informative Too !!      Approve

                  I Learned alot from this Article, but I mean, hasn't anyone heard of indelible ink?    Roll Eyes

                  I think its 7 dollars at most office supply stores.  LOL     I think my biggest fear with tickets is misplacing them, or spilling food on them.  or Orrrrrr get this............ having them fall in a puddle of mud!   The kind that is just not washable!  lol.... or orrrrr,   hmmm, having them fly out the window!!!       Yes Nod

                  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                  I am happy He was able to verify his winnings, and c'mon LP, one of has to win It Big this Year.... Personally, I'm rooting for Pumpi or Todd to win it all, and throw an LP Party Costume Party where we can all go and dance to whatever hip music there is, and well like any appreciative and good guest, just show up for the Good Food.   Hear that Pumpi and Todd, I want caviar and truffles at this Party.  LOL!!!      I LOVE YOU GUYS!  i LOVE LP.  !!!   StarSmileStarEmbarassedStarSmileStar

                  Party PartyPartyParty

                  - ILOVETHELOTTERY Sun Smiley

                    rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                    100
                    Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
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                    Posted: May 14, 2010, 7:59 pm - IP Logged

                    He wanted to sign his ticket with a laser printer?

                    That sounds like the kinda guy you'd like to grab by the back of the neck and shake him around like a rag doll for a few minutes.

                    Then give him a smack upside his head and hand him a friggin' pen.


                                                                 
                                         
                                                             

                     

                     

                     

                     

                                                                                                                       

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

                                                                                                                --Edmund Burke

                     

                     

                      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                      50
                      Chief Bottle Washer
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                      Posted: May 14, 2010, 8:36 pm - IP Logged

                      He wanted to sign his ticket with a laser printer?

                      That sounds like the kinda guy you'd like to grab by the back of the neck and shake him around like a rag doll for a few minutes.

                      Then give him a smack upside his head and hand him a friggin' pen.

                      In one form or another, that was my first thought too.

                       

                      Check the State Lottery Report Card
                      What grade did your lottery earn?

                       

                      Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                      Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                        increase's avatar - cerulean 00010148.jpg
                        25
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                        Posted: May 14, 2010, 9:22 pm - IP Logged

                        So now we know what not to do.

                        I'm glad that the winner was able to collect the money. Big Smile

                        When I win, I will be safely inside with my signed ticket until the lottery office opens.

                        I am a millionaire!

                          Raven62's avatar - binary
                          25
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                          June 28, 2005
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                          Posted: May 14, 2010, 10:36 pm - IP Logged

                          He wanted to sign his ticket with a laser printer?

                          That sounds like the kinda guy you'd like to grab by the back of the neck and shake him around like a rag doll for a few minutes.

                          Then give him a smack upside his head and hand him a friggin' pen.

                          The Endorsement was for a group called MAED Trust: Maybe he has rotten Penmanship! Thud

                          A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                          Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

                          Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

                            rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                            100
                            Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
                            United States
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                            April 28, 2009
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                            Posted: May 14, 2010, 10:44 pm - IP Logged

                            Before handling Paper: It's important to know what Type of Paper it is: In this case the Lottery Ticket was printed on Thermal Paper with a Thermal Printer. Applying Heat to a Thermal Paper Lottery Ticket will all but make it Illegible and make it all but Impossible to Claim the Prize Money if not for Forensics.

                            I'll make sure to ask Sahib down at the 7-11 what kind of paper my ticket is printed on next time.


                                                                         
                                                 
                                                                     

                             

                             

                             

                             

                                                                                                                               

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

                                                                                                                        --Edmund Burke