New details of how vendors outsmarted their lottery terminals and printed themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars in instant, winning "5 Card Cash" tickets, are revealed in the Connecticut Lottery Corp.'s final assessment of the scandal.
Frank Farricker, chairman of the board overseeing the lottery, sent the eight-page assessment of the fraud to the state Department of Consumer Protection on Friday. The department regulates the lottery and investigates the wrongdoing.
In a Sunday interview with Hearst Connecticut Media, Farricker said no evidence exists of a conspiracy to cheat the lottery system, but more than a dozen vendors figured out the glitch independently. The fraudulent activity became apparent over time to state regulators who suspended the game 18 months after it began.
While he could not estimate how much money was lost as a result of the cheating, Farricker said the game was popular and netted the lottery $1 million a month until it ended last November, when the cheating became apparent.
The vendors could type on their sales terminal keyboards something as mundane as a request for directions to lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill and the terminals would slow down, allowing the sellers to void non-winning tickets and give themselves winners.
The $2 game, which featured classic poker hands, began in May 2014. It was developed by the lottery's vendor, Scientific Games. Winning tickets ranged from $2 for a pair of 8s, to $100 for four-of-a-kind and $5,000 for a royal flush.
Farricker said warnings about possible weaknesses in the game dated to January 2015, when an employee at Gene's Automotive in Trumbull reported upcoming transactions were visible on the screen before they were printed for customers.
By June, a change in the software made by contractor Scientific Games was intended to print tickets faster. Instead, it a resulted in slowing the printers on lottery terminals. Lottery officials complained Scientific Games had not notified them of the change. In October, Lottery Investigator Robert Balicki discovered the weakness.
"During a terminal transaction involving multiple bets being placed, it appears that the print is slower than the bet information coming from the terminal," Balicki wrote in an email. "During that time, the retailer/clerk can place a 5 Card Cash wager or wagers while the printer is still printing the previous wagers." That action allowed clerks to view the 5 Card Cash bets prior to a ticket being printed.
That was around the time the lottery's financial team noticed prizes awarded in the game were higher than anticipated.
Farricker — who is the acting director of the quasi-public agency after a deal was negotiated with former director Anne Noble to step down — stressed 5 Card Cash made money for the corporation and Noble had nothing to do with the vendor hacking. Noble will remain in an advisory role at the lottery into next year.
"The Board of Directors is extremely proud of the performance of the Connecticut Lottery, at least over the past five years I have been chairman," said Farricker, a Greenwich Democrat appointed to the board by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. "We have nothing but the strongest support for Anne Noble and are looking forward to working with her moving forward and finding for a new director for the lottery to make even more money for the state."
Farricker and the board have been under fire for striking a deal with Noble that will pay her at a higher rate than her former $206,000 salary. But Farricker said lottery deals and operations are complicated and her staying on will allow for a smooth transition while maximizing the lottery's revenue stream for the state.
More arrests are expected in the scheme.
Among those already arrested were Rohit Parvathreddy, who vended lottery tickets in Danbury and Bethel; David Caprio, a Bethel vendor; and Sabahat Khan, a Milford retailer who owns the News Den on New Haven Avenue. All three men are facing felony charges of computer crime, first-degree larceny and rigging. They are due in court next month.