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Undercover officers catch store clerks keeping winning lottery tickets

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: Undercover officers catch store clerks keeping winning lottery tickets

Includes video report

RALEIGH, N.C. — A man walks into a convenience store and asks the clerk to check his lottery tickets. "Can you scan these and see if there are any winners?" he asks. The clerk scans the first ticket and freezes, staring at the screen that shows it's a $1,000 winner. The clerk shakes his head, puts the ticket to the side and tells the customer, "There's nothing on them."

What the clerk doesn't know is that the customer is an undercover officer wearing a hidden camera, which captures the entire scene, including the clerk quickly knocking the winning ticket off the counter onto the floor.

This scene played out Dec. 3, 2010, at a convenience store in Rutherford County. The clerk, Michael Mace, was later arrested when he tried to cash in the $1,000 ticket at a claims office. He was given 24 months' probation.

Since 2009, the North Carolina Education Lottery has teamed up with local authorities for what they call a "Player Protection Campaign," aimed at caching cheating lottery clerks.

The undercover officers use special lottery tickets, designed to mimic a winning ticket when it is scanned at a lottery terminal. The clerk is supposed to tell the undercover officer posing as a lottery player that the ticket is a winner and that the prize must be claimed at a lottery office.

Retailers who take customers' winning tickets can face a Class H felony charge of attempting to obtain property by false pretenses. During the lottery's latest investigation, which lasted 14 months and ended this past March, seven people were arrested, including two in Wake County.

The North Carolina Education Lottery sells, on average, about 2.2 million tickets each day at more than 6,700 retailers across the state. As the lottery's director of security, Moe McKnight has a lot of games, store owners and clerks to keep an eye on.

"We just want to make sure the players have an enjoyable experience," he said. "They trust the system. They feel confident in the security and safeguards that we have in place."

McKnight shared two of the undercover videos with WRAL Investigates, including the one that captured Mace taking the $1,000 winning ticket. The second video was shot at a Charlotte convenience store on Dec. 9, 2009.

"I'd like to check these tickets," the undercover officer tells the clerk.

"Nothing," the clerk says, after scanning the tickets.

"None?" the officer asks. "Are you sure?"

"None," the clerk responds. "No winners."

Store owner Dipak Rajpuria pleaded guilty in the case. He received probation and lost his license to sell lottery tickets.

North Carolina Education Lottery officials terminate the lottery operations at any store where the owner was charged, and they suspend lottery operations at stores where an employee is charged. Stores are not allowed to resume ticket sales if the clerk charged with attempted fraud is still an employee there.

Raleigh store owner and lottery retailer Steve Byers says he knows the prospect of cashing in can test clerks' morals. He makes sure his employees play by the rules, for his sake and the customers'.

"It's something you have to keep on top of, something you have to manage, because there's a lot of money involved, a lot of possibilities for things to go wrong, a lot of temptations," he said. "There's no limit to the potential of abuse that can happen with this type of thing."

To help combat the problem, lottery officials are deploying scanners across the state, which allow customers to check tickets by themselves. While winners are obvious on some scratch-off tickets, that's not the case in all games. Some require game knowledge beyond matching some numbers or symbols.

Lottery officials suggest players educate themselves and check for themselves. Also, players should sign the back of their tickets as soon as they get them to show ownership.

VIDEO: Watch the news report

SybY_mULEd0Undercover officers catch store clerks keeping winning lottery ticketsSince 2009, the North Carolina Education Lottery has teamed up with local authorities for what they call a "Player Protection Campaign," aimed at caching cheating lottery clerks.T05M16Shttp://img.youtube.com/vi/SybY_mULEd0/1.jpghttps://youtu.be/SybY_mULEd02014-04-27T12:04:00-05:00


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57 comments. Last comment 3 years ago by RedStang.
Page 1 of 4
mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash

United States
Member #141034
April 2, 2013
1477 Posts
Posted: April 27, 2014, 12:10 pm - IP Logged

Awesome!!!. This is always my fav. story, busting those S.O.B's. WTG NCLottery, you are doing a wonderful job for your people. Keep it up. That video was fun to watch.

Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

    CDanaT's avatar - tiger avatar_04_hd_pictures_169016.jpg
    United States
    Member #121193
    January 4, 2012
    1648 Posts
    Posted: April 27, 2014, 12:18 pm - IP Logged

            BEAUTIFUL   !!!!!!!!!!

    Stay Positive, Believe and good things will come your way

      Marilyn222's avatar - thumb 350-286546.jpg
      United States
      Member #117684
      October 12, 2011
      552 Posts
      Posted: April 27, 2014, 12:21 pm - IP Logged

      Good job!Smile

      White Bounce

        United States
        Member #124493
        March 14, 2012
        7023 Posts
        Posted: April 27, 2014, 12:34 pm - IP Logged

        Nice story Todd!

        I have a lot of deragotory, mildly racist, and politically oriented, and generallly wisdom infused bonehead comments to make with this one.

        BUTT first

        From my experience in NY, where I have in many posts complained about the scanners not being able to read the scratchies,

        I think its because you cant scratch the back, but you have to scratch the front.  ( I dont rememberm or know how I was scanning a scratcher since I hate them, BUTT!

        If you notice the reporter dude, tells you to scan it but he scanned the back.

        That doesn't work from my experience.

        You have to scratch the latex front and scan that.Idea


        (I just saved you some bandwidth there)Wink

          ShowMeTheMoney$'s avatar - Lottery-050.jpg

          United States
          Member #140525
          March 21, 2013
          119 Posts
          Posted: April 27, 2014, 12:48 pm - IP Logged

          You shoud always check your own tickets yourself.  It's not hard to do.  I do.  It can be a little frustrating though because sometimes those scanner machines are so slow.

            mrcraft's avatar - images3lp4 zps7dbb4a10.jpg
            Los Angeles, California
            United States
            Member #149492
            December 2, 2013
            919 Posts
            Posted: April 27, 2014, 1:00 pm - IP Logged

            Too bad the two in this story only got probation.  In California, they ran similar stings and many are actually serving time.

              mamamary517's avatar - Lottery-024.jpg
              Brooklyn, NY
              United States
              Member #115853
              August 29, 2011
              74 Posts
              Posted: April 27, 2014, 1:48 pm - IP Logged

              Always scratch off the bottom to scan the bar code.  The winners are easy, you see that you won.  However, when it looks like a loser that is really when you need to double the ticket before you trash a winner by mistake.

                maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
                United States
                Member #37433
                April 14, 2006
                2747 Posts
                Posted: April 27, 2014, 2:13 pm - IP Logged

                The first names on the video report of the culprits is one Yogesh Patel LOL you cannot make these things up.

                That money's gone fo ever

                  ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
                  United States
                  Member #56506
                  November 21, 2007
                  6537 Posts
                  Posted: April 27, 2014, 2:36 pm - IP Logged

                  I wish more states would do this.

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

                    rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
                    United States
                    Member #55889
                    October 23, 2007
                    6472 Posts
                    Posted: April 27, 2014, 3:42 pm - IP Logged

                    In Texas, the TLC installed new terminals that play a tune if a ticket is a winner. So, it's hard for a clerk to cheat a customer. I still check my tickets and know what the winners are worth when I redeem them.

                    CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

                    A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

                      ONEDAY's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                      United States
                      Member #5328
                      June 30, 2004
                      1284 Posts
                      Posted: April 27, 2014, 4:04 pm - IP Logged

                      In Texas, the TLC installed new terminals that play a tune if a ticket is a winner. So, it's hard for a clerk to cheat a customer. I still check my tickets and know what the winners are worth when I redeem them.

                      ohio is the same if your ticket is a winner ..it will say in a mans voice "winner..Winner!"

                      have a great winning day!

                        United States
                        Member #138988
                        February 11, 2013
                        19 Posts
                        Posted: April 27, 2014, 4:25 pm - IP Logged

                        Exactly what I've been saying all along. This has happened to me so many times! Even after I scan the ticket myself before handing the ticket to them! It's definately happening in Georgia and I had complained to them about it. One clerk threw mine in his trash bin and I ended up getting it back! It's disgusting!

                          savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
                          adelaide sa
                          Member #37136
                          April 11, 2006
                          3329 Posts
                          Posted: April 27, 2014, 5:27 pm - IP Logged

                          they are supposed to hand losers back, maybe we all need to start videoing the   transactions and explaining what we expect before handing the ticket over.



                          <div_prefs id="div_prefs">

                          " Still swinging, still missing "
                          2014 = -1016; 2015= -1409; 2016  = -1171; 2017 = ?  TOT =  -3596: JAN= -

                          keno historic = -2291 ; 2015= -603; 2016= -424; 2017 = ? TOT = - 3318: JAN= -39

                            noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                            Chasing the Dream.
                            Utopia- California
                            United States
                            Member #136477
                            December 12, 2012
                            4538 Posts
                            Posted: April 27, 2014, 6:21 pm - IP Logged

                            The first names on the video report of the culprits is one Yogesh Patel LOL you cannot make these things up.

                            Wanna bet that he goes by the name " YOGI"- not to be confused with Yogi Berra, considered one of the greatest catchers in baseball history.

                            Well this yogi got .. what a catch!