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California gas station manager allegedly kept winning lottery scratchers

California LotteryCalifornia Lottery: California gas station manager allegedly kept winning lottery scratchers

The former manager of a San Bruno gas station has been charged with cheating people who purchased California lottery scratchers after he figured out a way to secretly check which tickets were winners.

He would then sell the losing tickets to gas station patrons.

Most people who bought the scratcher tickets probably never noticed something was odd, but one customer did notice her ticket had been tampered with.

At the bottom of the ticket there were markings as though someone had scratched it with a pin or other sharp object.

It's what the California Lottery Commission calls "pinning," a way retailers can secretly check whether tickets are winners or losers, and then keep the winners and sell only the losing tickets to customers.

The California Lottery Commission sent undercover investigators to the gas station and the manager sold them four more altered tickets.

"We've had theft of lottery tickets, we've had a variety of manufactured, but this is the first time we've had this new thing called 'pinning' of a lottery ticket," San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told KTVU.

Wagstaffe said the gas station manager, 27-year-old Shoiab Muhammed Mustafa of Pacifica, was arrested November 17th. He faces five felony counts of computer fraud and a misdemeanor charge. Investigators said he stole at least $300.

While it is not a large sum of money, they do not know when the alleged fraud might have been started or how many people might have been victimized.

"Think of the fraud that exists out there if we don't crack down hard on this. We'd have people out there who are taking total advantage. We don't know the extent that was done by this defendant Mr. Mustafa," Wagstaffe said.

KTVU reached the gas station owner Reza Mahmoodi, who says Mustafa was let go after staff checked surveillance cameras inside the store and saw some suspicious behavior. He had been an employee about one year prior to his arrest.

The Lottery Commission said the business will be allowed to continue selling tickets, since the investigation did not reveal any wrongdoing on the owner's part.

The defendant Mustafa told KTVU by phone that he had no comment and would have his defense attorney respond to any questions.

Wagstaffe said this case reveals a potential need for state lottery officials to better safeguard the scratchers.

"What they need to do is to change the system so that the ability of the people who deal these tickets, to see, 'Hey, do I have a winner or a loser?' is eliminated. They need to be as much in the dark as anybody else," Wagstaffe said.

Mustafa has been released from jail and has a court date set for January 15th.

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

San Francisco Chronicle

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38 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by Player7.
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Sherita's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
Vtracs is My Game!
United States
Member #3617
February 6, 2004
7422 Posts
Posted: January 13, 2015, 9:03 pm - IP Logged

'Another one bites the dust!'Rant

Congrats To All Winners and Posters!

LurkingWe are all in it to win!  My Pet numbers 103,724,152,397,189,118,205.

Ga Lottery Player!

Hot-Due-Cold. Short Sums/Last Digit Sum. Pairs. Vtracs. Vtrac Pairs. SUM OF VTRACS CHART.

Don't forget to FLIP 6/9 in all WORKOUTS!  66=99=69. Vtracs Code sheets available....

    New York
    United States
    Member #157288
    July 14, 2014
    170 Posts
    Posted: January 13, 2015, 9:16 pm - IP Logged

    thats an old '27'...

      maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
      United States
      Member #37433
      April 14, 2006
      2747 Posts
      Posted: January 13, 2015, 9:27 pm - IP Logged

      Thumbs Up good job California lottery. I used to love watching that show "To catch a lottery thief" by Chris Hansen. Lots of Asians and Middle Easterns were getting busted. I think NY Lottery denied him permission to do NY episodes because NY is a hotbed of....um..never mind Shifty

      That money's gone fo ever

        TnTicketlosers's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg

        United States
        Member #71120
        February 19, 2009
        1209 Posts
        Posted: January 13, 2015, 10:55 pm - IP Logged

        Another peice of scum of the Earth

          HaveABall's avatar - rocket

          United States
          Member #72448
          March 18, 2009
          1228 Posts
          Posted: January 13, 2015, 11:29 pm - IP Logged

          Ah, this man found a way to be cleaver and deceitful at the same time.  May this man embrace living an honest lifestyle, instead, for the remainder of his life.

          Note.  Why only $400 received from this cleverness, had it been short-term? Thinking of...

          Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!


            noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
            Bay Area - California
            United States
            Member #136477
            December 12, 2012
            4108 Posts
            Posted: January 14, 2015, 12:00 am - IP Logged

            Thumbs Up good job California lottery. I used to love watching that show "To catch a lottery thief" by Chris Hansen. Lots of Asians and Middle Easterns were getting busted. I think NY Lottery denied him permission to do NY episodes because NY is a hotbed of....um..never mind Shifty

            I Agree!..This State does not screw around when it comes to nailing these underhanded Owners or store clerks.Chris Hansen had a " Great Time" out here, l miss those shows myself M.

            People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

              rubync's avatar - disney20
              wilson, nc
              United States
              Member #153080
              March 5, 2014
              1430 Posts
              Posted: January 14, 2015, 12:34 am - IP Logged


                RedStang's avatar - tallman zps6gf4inoc.jpg
                United States
                Member #121961
                January 21, 2012
                3157 Posts
                Posted: January 14, 2015, 1:29 am - IP Logged

                They should of had one of the undercover investigators scratch a 100k winner in front of dum dum and watch his reaction.

                  United States
                  Member #32652
                  February 14, 2006
                  7314 Posts
                  Posted: January 14, 2015, 2:37 am - IP Logged

                  All that for just $300. I guess he thought he would not get caught.

                    Sunny California
                    United States
                    Member #40295
                    May 31, 2006
                    7712 Posts
                    Posted: January 14, 2015, 5:55 am - IP Logged

                    Yeesh, the more of these stories I read, it makes you wonder if there's one honest lottery retailer left in the country!

                    Buy from the machine when you can! Until someone starts "rigging" those too, I guess.

                      mjwinsmith's avatar - moon

                      United States
                      Member #391
                      June 8, 2002
                      16071 Posts
                      Posted: January 14, 2015, 6:58 am - IP Logged

                      Yeesh, the more of these stories I read, it makes you wonder if there's one honest lottery retailer left in the country!

                      Buy from the machine when you can! Until someone starts "rigging" those too, I guess.

                      They can load the machines with losing tickets you know, so not safe there either.


                      "Don't be a Dummy, Make 'Dat Money"

                      Mjwinsmith's Blog Page:   http://blogs.lotterypost.com/mjwinsmith/

                      "How to Play My Pick-4 System": https://www.lotterypost.com/thread/306450

                        mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
                        JACKPOT HUNTER

                        United States
                        Member #141034
                        April 2, 2013
                        1408 Posts
                        Posted: January 14, 2015, 7:46 am - IP Logged

                        Since the Cal Lottery were aware that their scratchers are subject to "pinning", because of their weak-ass security, why didn't they rectify it?. Both the thief and the lottery, are equally responsible. You leave your keys in the ignition, with the doors wide open, chances are somebody will try to steal your vehicle.

                        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****

                          Wyomissing, PA
                          United States
                          Member #161050
                          November 15, 2014
                          301 Posts
                          Posted: January 14, 2015, 9:17 am - IP Logged

                          At least the instant ticket seller had to put some effort into it. Was a time in Pennsylvania, and presumably in other states that used similar systems, the ticket serial number was plainly visible - no scratching needed / no security codes. All the ticket seller had to do was enter that number, and the terminal would tell them if it was a winner. It became a widespread and publicized problem. Eventually, most lotteries switched to tickets with additional, covered security codes (and later, the entire serial number), which had to be scratched off, for them to be validated.

                          Sad to say, there are many shady lottery retailers. Buying from machine can be safer, but isn't infallible. A sure way to detect instant ticket fraud is to look at the three digit number of the ticket in the pack (000 to high as 299; higher denomination packs have less; some few as 20 tickets) - they should be in sequential order (ascending / descending doesn't matter) with no skips. If there are skips, that's a possible sign of tampering. Question the transaction and/or report the ticket seller to the lottery.

                          A minor exception to be aware of is playing from a machine with the same ticket loaded in more than one slot. The machine may switch over to the other pack prematurely, if the number of tickets requested exceeds what's remaining in the current pack. A work-around is to buy less tickets than what's remaining to avoid the issue. For example, if I'm seeking to buy out the current pack, which is also loaded in another slot, and I know there's 10 tickets left, I'll buy 8 (leave a fudge factor, since sometimes the first / last ticket may be missing / not dispensed) and then one at a time until the machine switches over to the next pack. This is not always necessary depending on how the tickets were loaded, but I've occasionally run into this issue.

                            Gleno's avatar - Lottery-001.jpg
                            New Jersey
                            United States
                            Member #80354
                            September 25, 2009
                            705 Posts
                            Posted: January 14, 2015, 10:16 am - IP Logged

                            Another unscrupulous retailer caught  in the act of cheating players.