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Florida store employee arrested for 'micro-scratching' lottery tickets

Florida LotteryFlorida Lottery: Florida store employee arrested for 'micro-scratching' lottery tickets
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Includes video report

TAMPA, Fla. — Authorities say a Florida convenience store clerk was cashing in by cheating, while selling customers worthless lottery tickets.

Lottery officials say he got greedy and tried to cash in too many big winning lottery scratch-off tickets at the Tampa Lottery District Office.

One major red flag was when he tried to claim a $500 winning scratch-off ticket that hadn't even been scratched.

For more than a year, lottery officials believe an employee of a Radiant convenience store on North Dale Mabry Highway stole from the lottery and customers.

Emad Faragallah was arrested last night for allegedly "micro scratching" tickets. 

The process involves using a small blade to scratch off part of a lottery ticket, exposing a number that can be read by a lottery terminal to determine if it is a winner.

Records show Faragallah cashed in at least seven winning tickets valued at $1,000 each.

Each had odds of winning of between 1-in-1,153 and 1-in-2,069.

In order to guarantee that many wins through buying tickets, Faragallah would have had to have purchased more than $250,000 worth of tickets in a year-long period.

Police believe he didn't pay his employer for the winning tickets, but cashed the smaller wins in at the store.

He was required by law to redeem wins of more than $600 at the Florida Lottery District Office.

"Makes people like me not a winner, I guess, because I haven't gotten anything more than five bucks, said Eric Varsalona, who frequently bought scratch-off tickets at the store.

Officials got suspicious when Faragallah tried to cash in a $500 ticket that hadn't yet been scratched, and began an investigation.

A police report says investigators found evidence of micro scratching on other tickets at the store and observed Faragallah on surveillance video  "micro scratching tickets, checking them on the terminal and placing tickets back into the display case to sell to customers."

"He took all that opportunity of that lucky strike completely away from them. That's pretty harsh these days," said Jeff Zolna, a customer at the store.

The store immediately fired Faragallah and cooperated fully with state lottery investigators. 

"If someone can figure out how to get around the system, it's obviously a flawed system to some extent," said Varsalona.

For the past three years Florida media outlets have been reporting how lottery retailers won big prizes dozens of times despite tiny odds.

Some had their privileges suspended, but the lottery won't say if micro scratching was involved. 

Lottery officials encourage players to report any suspicious activity immediately, because the sooner it is reported, the easier it is to investigate.

A lottery spokesperson released the following statement:

The Florida Lottery's Division of Security was made aware of an incident in which micro scratching was potentially occurring at a Lottery retail location, Radiant 1275, in Tampa. Micro scratching occurs when a small portion of a ticket is scratched off to identify the ticket's VIRN number. A VIRN number can be used by a retailer to identify a winning ticket.

Maintaining the integrity of our games and the trust of our players is a top priority of the Florida Lottery.  If players notice any suspicious activity involving a Lottery retailer or Lottery purchase, they are encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency or the Lottery's Division of Security immediately. The earlier suspicious activity is reported, the easier it is to investigate.

The Lottery will continue to take aggressive and meaningful steps to thwart unlawful activity, protect our players and ensure that we are being vigilant in upholding the integrity of our products and games.

Lottery officials say players should make sure tickets come off the roll and they should immediately check them for any markings, no matter how small, since that could be a sign of micro scratching.

VIDEO: Watch the report

tNOToFfQCHIFlorida store employee arrested for 'micro-scratching' lottery ticketsAuthorities say a Florida convenience store clerk was cashing in by cheating, while selling customers worthless lottery tickets.T02M58Shttps://img.youtube.com/vi/tNOToFfQCHI/1.jpghttps://youtu.be/tNOToFfQCHI2017-01-06T09:08:00-05:00

ABC, Lottery Post Staff

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31 comments. Last comment 3 days ago by dallascowboyfan.
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Raven62's avatar - binary
New Jersey
United States
Member #17843
June 28, 2005
51138 Posts
Offline
Posted: January 6, 2017, 10:55 am - IP Logged

Florida Players: Carefully Inspect Your Scratch-Off Game Tickets.

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

    gregs241's avatar - animal shark.jpg
    New Member
    Grantsburg, WI
    United States
    Member #176120
    July 21, 2016
    13 Posts
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    Posted: January 6, 2017, 10:58 am - IP Logged

    Good luck EMAD being prison "Bubba's" new best friend..............Agree with stupid

      Avatar
      Simpsonville
      United States
      Member #163189
      January 22, 2015
      701 Posts
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      Posted: January 6, 2017, 11:24 am - IP Logged

      Good luck EMAD being prison "Bubba's" new best friend..............Agree with stupid

      Bubba is always waiting for a new 'girlfriend' in the cell block.

        Let's see, today is 6 JAN 17 and here we are with a stupid, greedy person trying to beat the system.

      Time for my IGT to make this not happen, obviously this technology is dated since you only have to microscratch to check for a winner.

        cbr$'s avatar - maren
        Cordova,Al.
        United States
        Member #104482
        January 15, 2011
        5422 Posts
        Online
        Posted: January 6, 2017, 12:57 pm - IP Logged
        We have when from totally rigging lottery games to micro-scratching off
        scratch off tickets. Talking about taking their lottery players for granted
        and for a ride. This clerk must had the best poker face in town. To tell 
        his frequent buyers good luck on their tickets. Since he knew he took all
        the nice winners out. The icing on this cake, was him trying to claim the
        $500. winning off a unscratched ticket. It time for the lotteries to come
        together & come up with a plans or ideas to fix the flaws in the system.
        The lottery will not meet it goals as long is it players have no trust in it.
          Avatar
          Simpsonville
          United States
          Member #163189
          January 22, 2015
          701 Posts
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          Posted: January 6, 2017, 1:23 pm - IP Logged

          Just had to Google what those funny looking square gizmos are that can be scanned.  They are called QR=Quick Response.  Believe you me, since I'm a small time investor in IGT that produces many lottery tickets, I'll e-mail them with this fix.  This will eliminate microscratching because I believe the who QR box would have to be scratched off.  Funny I noticed @ work scanning the kids with barcodes sometimes the laser is nowhere near the barcode and it still beeps OK.

            Avatar
            NY
            United States
            Member #23835
            October 16, 2005
            3502 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: January 6, 2017, 1:28 pm - IP Logged

            "he tried to claim a $500 winning scratch-off ticket that hadn't even been scratched."

            Oops.

              Raven62's avatar - binary
              New Jersey
              United States
              Member #17843
              June 28, 2005
              51138 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: January 6, 2017, 1:29 pm - IP Logged

              Maybe he read previous LP News Stories: https://www.lotterypost.com/news/247863

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

                Avatar
                Florida
                United States
                Member #172872
                February 7, 2016
                775 Posts
                Online
                Posted: January 6, 2017, 1:39 pm - IP Logged

                "he tried to claim a $500 winning scratch-off ticket that hadn't even been scratched."

                Oops.

                Seriously, mind you...he also walked into a lottery district office to cash in that $500 winner. Lottery offices have different protocol they follow when cashing in a ticket such as having people sign the back of it (even if it is a small winner and isn't a claim ticket). If he would have went into a grocery store to cash it in, he probably wouldn't have been flagged  for suspicion.

                Additionally, this would be an easy investigation due to the fact that claim tickets ($1000 or more) also send a notification/banner to stores to display to show they had a big winner. Making the connection between an employee claiming all those tickets makes for a fairly easy investigation. I'm glad this guy was caught, and hope he gets some decent jail time.

                  Groppo's avatar - cat anm.gif

                  United States
                  Member #162631
                  January 7, 2015
                  538 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: January 6, 2017, 2:03 pm - IP Logged

                  .

                  THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE SUCK, THESE DAYS.

                  THERE IS NO HONESTY THESE DAYS, AND ALL YOU HAVE IS THESE GREEDY 'PEOPLE'.

                  I HATE THIS SYSTEM. I CAN'T WAIT FOR GOD TO HAVE HIS DAY OF ANGER AND WIPE OUT
                  ALL THOSE KINDS OF PEOPLE. MAYBE I'LL BE ONE OF THEM TOO, BUT I KNOW I CAN'T CONTINUE
                  TO PUT UP WITH PEOPLES' GARBAGE.

                  I"M DISGUSTED BY THE WHOLE LOT OF THEM THAT HAVE TO DO THOSE SORTS OF THINGS.

                  to the lottery commission:

                  you need to profile the people to whom you give permission to sell scratch offs.
                  check their backgrounds.  if a certain store sells them, you need to boycott the entire chain, from selling
                  scratch-offs, because that chain obviously doesn't care what kind of people they hire.

                  you need to TOTALLY re-vamp your intended lottery agent campaign, with ads that will make applicants RUN AWAY, rather than applying, and "taking a chance". your ads should read: 

                  Wanted: store clerk, state lottery licensed and HONEST.  if not honest, don't bother applying.  dishonesty to ANY degree will be dealt with
                  IN THE COURTS. . . .

                  Now then, how many people do you think will apply for such jobs then? 
                  I know one such person, but I'm not looking for a clerk-type job, OR a job in that kind of setting.

                  Mr. Groppo

                   

                   

                  (groppo, it's useless.  this whole world is becoming increasingly corrupt. do a youtube on north korea. previous leaders weren't as bad as this new guy kim jong un)

                  • Don't chase the numbers you play.
                  • Play only numbers you've already played, plus however many random picks.
                  • But, ALWAYS the regular numbers you play.  This will make you a winner, not a chaser.
                            (so far, though, I've yet to win any significant lotto prize)
                    Avatar
                    Simpsonville
                    United States
                    Member #163189
                    January 22, 2015
                    701 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: January 6, 2017, 2:16 pm - IP Logged

                    Just had to Google what those funny looking square gizmos are that can be scanned.  They are called QR=Quick Response.  Believe you me, since I'm a small time investor in IGT that produces many lottery tickets, I'll e-mail them with this fix.  This will eliminate microscratching because I believe the who QR box would have to be scratched off.  Funny I noticed @ work scanning the kids with barcodes sometimes the laser is nowhere near the barcode and it still beeps OK.

                    Message sent to IGT via FB.  They might be bound to the contract with the various states and you know they won't change anything mid-stream.  That would involve putting those special scanners in unless the ones they have can be upgraded.  Not my speciality.

                      Think's avatar - lightbulb
                      Marquette, MI
                      United States
                      Member #20541
                      August 20, 2005
                      710 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: January 6, 2017, 3:09 pm - IP Logged

                      Hmmm...

                      "Records show Faragallah cashed in at least seven winning tickets valued at $1,000 each."

                      In order to get that many wins "Faragallah would have had to have purchased more than $250,000 worth of tickets in a year-long period."

                      OH Boy!!!  Doesn't that just make you want to run out and buy those scratchers?

                        Avatar
                        Miami,Florida
                        United States
                        Member #178086
                        November 9, 2016
                        27 Posts
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                        Posted: January 6, 2017, 4:25 pm - IP Logged

                        Yup i have seen that in miami fl

                        I have recieve tickets like that several times!!

                        Money coming my way*Law of attraction*

                          Avatar
                          Chicago
                          United States
                          Member #171107
                          December 31, 2015
                          83 Posts
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                          Posted: January 6, 2017, 4:59 pm - IP Logged

                          One of the reasons I buy from vending machines

                          Cant trust clerks. At both places I buy my tickets I have seen tickets loaded into machine and they have never been out of order so there is clearly no fraud

                            noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                            Bay Area - California
                            United States
                            Member #136477
                            December 12, 2012
                            4146 Posts
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                            Posted: January 6, 2017, 5:57 pm - IP Logged

                            It doesn't matter how "good" you have been cheating people who are trying to win the honest way- sooner or later it all catches up to you. 

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