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Dozens of 'dead people' collected NJ lottery prizes last year

New Jersey LotteryNew Jersey Lottery: Dozens of 'dead people' collected NJ lottery prizes last year
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Nearly four dozen New Jersey lottery winners collected their prizes with false Social Security numbers belonging to dead people, according to an audit of the state lottery system.

The audit also found that the lottery missed out on recovering $890,000 that winners owed in taxes and other obligations for the fiscal year that ended last June.

The report, released Wednesday, said 680 people who won at least $600 presented potentially invalid IDs from July 2013 to July 2014.

People are required to list a Social Security or tax identification number and show ID to claim their winnings so the state can withhold state and federal taxes.

"Prize winners of $600 or more who provide invalid identification numbers create a risk of reduced tax withholdings, overpayment of public assistance, and lost collections on child support, defaulted student loans, and other debt owed to the state," the state auditor said.

Carole Hedinger, executive director of the state lottery, responded to the audit noting that the 680 suspicious Social Security numbers "represents a very small portion of all claims," and the auditor was "unable to substantiate whether these 680 'questionable' Social Security numbers were indeed fraudulent."

In the fiscal year ending in June, the lottery received more than 48,000 claims exceeding $600, Hedinger said.

The audit also found that during that time frame the state's lottery division could have recovered an extra $890,000 winners owed in taxes or other obligations.

State law requires that prizes over $600 be paid toward those debts. But the lottery division was only performing deeper checks for money owed in child support, student loans and public assistance overpayments on winnings over $250,000.

While the auditor recommended the state ramp up its checks to include all prize winners of $600 or more, Hedinger said that the division is not legally authorized to use Social Security numbers in that way. And for prizes more than $250,000, the office does manual checks using winners' names and addresses, Hedinger said.

The state's new Cash4Life game that debuted in June wasn't emerging as much of a windfall for the lottery system, the auditor also warned.

Run in partnership with the New York Lottery, the twice-weekly drawing awards prizes of $1,000 per day for life and $1,000 a week for life. This drawing is unique for awarding fixed sums while other game winnings are based on ticket sales, the auditor said.

The payout, while projected to be 55 percent of sales, reached 98 percent for New Jersey, through the end of August. The state paid out $22.8 million of the $23.3 million in sales.

Cash4Life's odds, one in 21 million, are better than a similar New England game with odds of one in 41 million, according to the audit.

Hedinger said the division keeps a close eye on how the game is performing and those early results are likely temporary.

"We expect the game will perform as designed when measured over a period of at least one year, which will tend to level the peaks and valleys of sales and prizes," she said, adding that Pennsylvania and Virginia will be joining with New York and New Jersey in hosting the game in the next few months.

NJ

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40 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by BellasBMWLucki.
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Scratch$'s avatar - sm lottery.jpg

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September 5, 2014
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Posted: February 19, 2015, 4:36 pm - IP Logged

No surprise here! The authorities need to investigate, arrest, prosecute and sentence these crooks whenever possible.

Scratchers ~ Cash 5 ~ Powerball ~ Mega Millions

    maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
    Massachusetts
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    Posted: February 19, 2015, 4:59 pm - IP Logged

    NJ Lottery needs to do a much better job catching these cheats. For a government agency I would give it a grade F given the fact that it can easily verify the identity of winners. I usually give government agencies a grade C

    It is interesting to see that Cash 4 Life is adding VA & PA.

      Gleno's avatar - Lottery-001.jpg
      New Jersey
      United States
      Member #80354
      September 25, 2009
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      Posted: February 19, 2015, 5:35 pm - IP Logged

      Looks like another game, Cash4Life is being looked at closer.

      What was the cost to promote this game?

      Thought the companies that put these games together would have a better handle on what they are promoting.

      The retailers will be,no doubt, forced to check ID on those $600.00 prizes, in the future.

      Shifty

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        Kentucky
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        February 14, 2006
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        Posted: February 19, 2015, 5:47 pm - IP Logged

        NJ Lottery needs to do a much better job catching these cheats. For a government agency I would give it a grade F given the fact that it can easily verify the identity of winners. I usually give government agencies a grade C

        It is interesting to see that Cash 4 Life is adding VA & PA.

        What you're forgetting is any retailer can validate tickets, pay winnings up to $5000 so you're asking an average store clerk to do police work. There are about 150 lottery employees to cover 6100 retailers. The best suggestion might be creating cashing agents for prizes over $600 and paying those retailers extra if they expect them to do the police work.

          lejardin's avatar - Lottery-014.jpg

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          November 4, 2011
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          Posted: February 19, 2015, 5:51 pm - IP Logged

          They have taken claiming anonymously to a new level lol. 

            maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
            Massachusetts
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            Posted: February 19, 2015, 6:00 pm - IP Logged

            What you're forgetting is any retailer can validate tickets, pay winnings up to $5000 so you're asking an average store clerk to do police work. There are about 150 lottery employees to cover 6100 retailers. The best suggestion might be creating cashing agents for prizes over $600 and paying those retailers extra if they expect them to do the police work.

            I did not know that about. In MA any prize over $600 has to be claimed at one of the Mass Lottery claim centers where they confirm your identity and take the government cut. They have been doing this for over 10 years. Taxachusetts don't play

            That money's gone fo ever

              Raven62's avatar - binary
              New Jersey
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              June 28, 2005
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              Posted: February 19, 2015, 6:17 pm - IP Logged

              Ghosting is a form of identity theft in which someone steals the identity, and sometimes even the role within society, of a specific dead person (the "ghost") who is not widely known to be deceased. Usually, the person who steals this identity (the "ghoster") is roughly the same age that the ghost would have been if still alive, so that any documents citing the birthdate of the ghost will not be conspicuously incorrect if appropriated by the thief now claiming to be that person.

              The use of counterfeit identification falsely documenting a completely fictional identity is not ghosting, as false identification cannot be used to obtain social services or interact with government agencies or law enforcement officials. The purpose of ghosting is to enable the ghoster to claim for his own use an existing identity that is already listed in government records -- an identity that is dormant because its original possessor is dead.

              Ghosting is based on the premise (now less justified than in previous times) that separate government agencies do not share a total exchange of information. Therefore, a ghoster can obtain a passport or Social Security benefits in the name of a dead person because the agencies in charge of those services do not routinely cross-check an applicant's history to determine if a death certificate has been issued in that person's name.

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

                sully16's avatar - sharan
                Ringleader
                Michigan
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                October 28, 2009
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                Posted: February 19, 2015, 7:24 pm - IP Logged

                Ghosting is a form of identity theft in which someone steals the identity, and sometimes even the role within society, of a specific dead person (the "ghost") who is not widely known to be deceased. Usually, the person who steals this identity (the "ghoster") is roughly the same age that the ghost would have been if still alive, so that any documents citing the birthdate of the ghost will not be conspicuously incorrect if appropriated by the thief now claiming to be that person.

                The use of counterfeit identification falsely documenting a completely fictional identity is not ghosting, as false identification cannot be used to obtain social services or interact with government agencies or law enforcement officials. The purpose of ghosting is to enable the ghoster to claim for his own use an existing identity that is already listed in government records -- an identity that is dormant because its original possessor is dead.

                Ghosting is based on the premise (now less justified than in previous times) that separate government agencies do not share a total exchange of information. Therefore, a ghoster can obtain a passport or Social Security benefits in the name of a dead person because the agencies in charge of those services do not routinely cross-check an applicant's history to determine if a death certificate has been issued in that person's name.

                We have this in Detroit, but we call them voters.

                Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

                For a lead role in a cage?

                 

                                                            From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"

                  noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                  Bay Area - California
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                  Posted: February 19, 2015, 9:13 pm - IP Logged

                  I did not know that about. In MA any prize over $600 has to be claimed at one of the Mass Lottery claim centers where they confirm your identity and take the government cut. They have been doing this for over 10 years. Taxachusetts don't play

                  Same with California- only with us it's ..$599.00 and over.

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

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                    wisconsin
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                    Posted: February 19, 2015, 9:16 pm - IP Logged

                    Who knew The Walking Dead was a documentary.

                     

                      maximumfun's avatar - Lottery-030.jpg
                      Lavender Rocket

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                      Posted: February 19, 2015, 9:26 pm - IP Logged

                      I love New Jersey.

                        Raven62's avatar - binary
                        New Jersey
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                        Posted: February 19, 2015, 10:53 pm - IP Logged

                        We have this in Detroit, but we call them voters.

                        And Here: All Along I Thought They Were Politicians!

                        What's a Politician: Someone That Does Nothing for Voters, but Raise Taxes!

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

                          Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                          Zeta Reticuli Star System
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                          Posted: February 20, 2015, 2:35 am - IP Logged

                          Chicago joke: My grandfather voted Republican all his life until he died. Since then he's been voting democrat!

                          Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

                          Lep

                          There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                            Avatar
                            NY
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                            October 16, 2005
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                            Posted: February 20, 2015, 3:00 am - IP Logged

                            What you're forgetting is any retailer can validate tickets, pay winnings up to $5000 so you're asking an average store clerk to do police work. There are about 150 lottery employees to cover 6100 retailers. The best suggestion might be creating cashing agents for prizes over $600 and paying those retailers extra if they expect them to do the police work.

                            You might want to read the article, which clearly says that it happens with prizes of $600 or more.

                            In NJ, and most other states, anything over $600 has to be claimed at a lottery office. It shouldn't be that hard for a state agency to make sure that a winner is correctly identified, in which case an incorrect social security number won't be a big problem. When they find out the withholdings were credited to the wrong person, they should know the identity of the person who gave them the wrong number. Most states withhold the maximum tax, and federal withholdings will be 30%. In the majority of cases they'll already have what the person owes in taxes. For issues with  child support or public assistance, it goes back to having a correct ID, even is the SS# isn't correct.