Perps exposed by security integrity testing program
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky, has handed down indictments against four individuals charged with state lottery fraud. One of the four is also charged with providing false information to state lottery investigators.
The Kentucky Lottery Corporation's (KLC's) security department launched an Integrity Testing Program in March of this year. The program's goal was to determine if store clerks were following procedures for cashing winning tickets. During the investigation, undercover KLC security personnel presented clerks with tickets that appeared to be $8000 winners. "When the tickets were presented, security personnel told the clerks he or she didn't know if any of the tickets were winners," said the KLC's Senior Vice President of Security Bill Hickerson. "It was up to the clerks to scan the tickets to see if they were indeed winners."
KLC security personnel went to 33 retailers in Louisville and Lexington. The retailers were specifically chosen based on previous customer complaints or prior cashing activity. Special tickets were produced by the KLC's instant ticket provider (Scientific Games) for the operation. Internal alerts were received when someone attempted to cash them.
At three retailers, these special tickets were kept by the store clerks and later presented at KLC headquarters in Louisville for payment. The results of the Integrity Testing Program, including all facts and circumstances concerning the activity involved with these tickets, were provided to the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office presented three indictments to the June term of the Jefferson County Grand Jury.
The Grand Jury subsequently has indicted the following individuals on charges of state lottery fraud, a Class B felony which carries a term of 10 to 20 years in prison:
- Vaishaliben Patel, in conjunction with tickets presented at Hunter's Market, 6303 Lower Hunters Trace in Louisville;
- Joanne Wiggins, in conjunction with a ticket presented at Meijer Gas #162, 9905 Dixie Highway in Louisville;
- Bhaggy Patel and Hardik Patel, in conjunction with a ticket presented at Pantry Fresh, 464 Squires Road in Lexington.
Hardik Patel was also indicted on an additional charge of providing false information to state lottery investigators, which carries a term of 1 to 5 years in prison.
"Upon a thorough and complete review of the investigation performed by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation's security department, as well as a thorough review of all applicable Kentucky law, the decision was made to seek indictments of the individuals involved," said Commonwealth's Attorney R. David Stengel. "Many years ago, when the lottery first started in the Commonwealth, the state legislature enacted a very specific set of laws to govern the operation of the lottery in Kentucky. The Kentucky Revised Statutes governing the lottery specify what shall be felony offenses and what shall be the appropriate penalties if those offenses are committed. The indictments returned today reflect the application of these statutes to the conduct of those named in the indictments."
"While I'm disappointed in the actions of these individuals, I continue to believe the overwhelming majority of our retailers and their clerks are honest in their dealings with our players," said KLC President and CEO Arch Gleason. "These numbers don't reflect an overall picture of our retailer base as these particular stores were visited because of prior complaints or previous cashing activity. They were not randomly chosen, and as a result are not representative of the behavior of our 2800 Kentucky Lottery retailers."
In addition, three other retailers told the security personnel the tickets weren't winners and then returned them to the individual that presented the ticket. "This is a training issue that will be addressed with our retailers," Gleason said.
"We've said for some time now that players have two ways to protect themselves – low-tech and high-tech," said Gleason. "On the low-tech side, we encourage players to always check their tickets closely to see if they're winners, and sign their tickets before handing them over to be scanned. On the high-tech side, players can check their tickets in a self-service scanner at nearly all retail locations to see what they've won before they turn over tickets. In addition, video monitors placed at nearly all KLC retailers show a player whether or not a ticket is a winner. These measures protect our players and our retailers."
Players are encouraged to contact the Kentucky Lottery's security department through their Fraud Watch program if they feel they may have not been properly paid a prize. Information can be submitted by phone at (502) 560-1813 or via email at email@example.com. "We have the ability through our computer systems to quickly look at any single transaction. This allows us to investigate any activity on a ticket to determine what happened at the terminal during a transaction," said Hickerson.
Gleason said the Integrity Testing Program will continue, but since the operation is an ongoing security measure, no additional details will be released at this time.
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