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Massachusetts has more repeat lottery winners than any other state

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Massachusetts has more repeat lottery winners than any other state
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Over the last six years, four members of the Jaafar family of Watertown have cashed in more than 7,000 winning lottery tickets and collected a cool $11 million.

Statistics suggest it's nearly impossible to win the lottery that frequently. But Massachusetts has more repeat lottery winners than any other state, people who redeem so many winning tickets that they raise questions about the integrity and oversight of the $5 billion state lottery, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis of nearly 11 million lottery records from 34 states.

State officials have long suspected that some of the most frequent winners are cashing lottery tickets for customers who don't want to claim the money themselves because they owe taxes, child support, or other debts, which would be garnished from their winnings. In exchange, the professional cashers, known as "ten percenters," are believed to keep a cut of the prize money, likely 10 percent.

Reports from the state auditor's' office dating back nearly two decades have warned that such practices are rampant and may be costing the state and federal governments millions in lost tax revenue. But such warnings have not stopped Massachusetts from turning into a haven for lottery players who win more than 1,000 times a year, easily outpacing the most frequent winners in Georgia, Ohio, and other large states who typically redeem fewer than 100 tickets per year.

"I do not know if our oversight is lacking in comparison to other states," said Michael R. Sweeney, executive director of the Massachusetts Lottery Commission. "What I do know is our oversight needs to do better, can be better, and I guarantee you will be better on this issue."

Beginning Oct. 1, the lottery plans to institute a new policy designed to crack down on players who cash a suspiciously high number of tickets. The policy will allow the state to freeze payouts to customers who redeem six or more prizes of $1,000 or more during a 12-month period. Players who are suspended will have an opportunity to appeal and show they are not violating the law. Sweeney said it is legal to cash other people's tickets, but illegal to do so if the goal is to help them dodge taxes or debts.

Despite that prohibition, Massachusetts has had more than 50 residents cash more than 200 lottery tickets worth at least $600 each over the last six years, giving the state more repeat winners than any other state for which data is available, according to the analysis by PennLive.com and students from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. The Fund for Investigative Journalism supported the project.

Some of the winners assert they are professional gamblers who spend most of their time and money buying scratch tickets, and barely break even. But the tickets they cash come from so many far-flung stores, officials say it is hard to believe they are buying them alone, and not collecting them from others.

"In some instances, it almost makes you wonder if there would be enough hours in the day to even buy that number of tickets," Sweeney said.

Ali M. Jaafar of Watertown is a typically quizzical case. A 59-year-old who has run his own taxi and phone-card businesses, he won the lottery more than 1,400 times last year, the highest total in Massachusetts and nationwide.

Over the last six years, he has won more than 5,800 times, collecting $8.9 million. But he wasn't just buying from his local variety store. His tickets were purchased at 1,200 stores in 160 communities ranging from Springfield to Nantucket.

"Do not want to talk about it," Jaafar said, and rolled up the window of his Ford Explorer, when asked by two reporters how he manages to win the lottery so frequently.

If Jaafar is buying thousands of tickets, he hasn't made an impression at the four stores in Watertown, Somerville, and Allston where most of his winning tickets were purchased. Clerks at those stores said they had never heard of Jaafar.

Three other members of the Jaafar family — Yousef, Munif, and Mohamed — are also frequent Lottery winners. Over the last six years, they've cashed 1,200 tickets worth more than $2.1 million.

And that's not the only questionable activity they've been involved in.

Last October, Yousef and Mohamed Jaafar were among 47 people indicted by a New Jersey grand jury for allegedly taking part in a massive fraud ring. Prosecutors say the scheme involved residents of Florida, New Jersey, and Massachusetts who set up bogus companies, which demanded payments from other companies and individuals. Prosecutors say the victims were duped into handing over $50,000 to $450,000.

Yousef and Mohamed Jafaar each pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree conspiracy, and are due to be sentenced in November.

Lynn is home to the player who has cashed the most tickets nationwide over the last six years: a 79-year-old named Clarance W. Jones.

Jones, who calls himself a professional gambler, has cashed more than 7,300 tickets for more than $11 million over that time period. Perhaps improbably for a man of his age, his tickets were purchased at 1,400 stores in 150 cities and towns, including Nantucket.

In 2011, he successfully defeated an effort by state officials to collect taxes on his prize money by claiming that he spends as much on the lottery as he wins. As proof, he produced boxes of losing lottery, Keno, and horse-racing tickets that his attorney said had been kept in a storage locker. Professional gamblers are entitled to deduct their losses under federal and state tax rules.

Jones also submitted into evidence a manual he had written entitled "The Gambler," which contained his "trade secrets" for beating the Massachusetts lottery, which he called "the easiest lottery system." Those "secrets" included buying tickets in the middle of a pack, where he believed the winning tickets are grouped, and buying from stores that had recently sold prize winners, reasoning they had a greater chance of selling another jackpot.

Contacted by phone, Jones told a Globe reporter to call his attorney, who did not return phone messages.

Sweeney, of the state lottery, pointed out that Massachusetts may have more lottery winners because residents here spend $746 per person per year on the lottery, more than residents of any other state. Massachusetts also devotes the highest percentage of its lottery revenue to prizes, giving people more opportunities to win large sums.

Still, Sweeney acknowledged that some players rack up so many wins that they must be bending the rules. "It defies legal logic," he said, "and it mandates a deeper drill down, in my opinion, of all the appropriate agencies and state and federal organizations."

Boston Globe

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25 comments. Last comment 13 days ago by Sumaria.
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United States
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March 12, 2015
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Posted: August 3, 2017, 7:31 pm - IP Logged

The policy will allow the state to freeze payouts to customers who redeem six or more prizes of $1,000 or more during a 12-month period. Players who are suspended will have an opportunity to appeal and show they are not violating the law. 

I hope it takes more than redeeming 6 or more prizes of 1k in a 12 month period to be suspended. The fact that one then has to prove their innocence seriously rubs me the wrong way. 

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    Wyomissing, PA
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    November 15, 2014
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    Posted: August 3, 2017, 8:03 pm - IP Logged

    Ditto. That blurb caught my attention too. Winning $1K+ at least 6 times in a year is common for some regular players. That's far too restrictive. 50 times or whatever, sure that would be more reasonable. Lotteries already have a bad reputation at not paying out in a timely manner as it is verses other gaming alternatives. Casinos routinely payout wins far larger than $1K within minutes, including to players who have hit over 6 times in the same day.

    Seems to me, Massachusetts Lottery players should wager small, such as Pick-3, and/or large, such as jackpot games. For those who frequently play Pick-4, wager more on Pick-3 instead to ensure payouts never exceed $600 per ticket. No forms to fill out, no taxes withheld, no restrictions on payouts, no worrying about being suspended, etc.

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      United States
      Member #164725
      March 12, 2015
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      Posted: August 3, 2017, 8:20 pm - IP Logged

      Ditto. That blurb caught my attention too. Winning $1K+ at least 6 times in a year is common for some regular players. That's far too restrictive. 50 times or whatever, sure that would be more reasonable. Lotteries already have a bad reputation at not paying out in a timely manner as it is verses other gaming alternatives. Casinos routinely payout wins far larger than $1K within minutes, including to players who have hit over 6 times in the same day.

      Seems to me, Massachusetts Lottery players should wager small, such as Pick-3, and/or large, such as jackpot games. For those who frequently play Pick-4, wager more on Pick-3 instead to ensure payouts never exceed $600 per ticket. No forms to fill out, no taxes withheld, no restrictions on payouts, no worrying about being suspended, etc.

      I dont mind them freezing or suspending after one claim so long as they can prove that there were some shenanigans. And by shenanigans, I mean more than that they won too many times or bought from too many vendors, etc. 

      But to refuse to pay and say it is up to the claimant to prove they are innocent is BS. 

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        Simpsonville
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        January 22, 2015
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        Posted: August 3, 2017, 8:49 pm - IP Logged

        I can't see these folks catching the long ass ride out to sea to Nantucket, even on the fast ferry I took it is still way out there and then driving all over creation to buy lottery tickets?  Yeah, and I've got a bridge for sale.  Probably some underground operation going on tghere.

          play4shekels's avatar - redhead
          Clearwater, FL
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          January 1, 2009
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          Posted: August 3, 2017, 9:42 pm - IP Logged

          In contrast to other members that think cashing six tickets valued at more than $1000 each over a twelve-month period is unfair, I've been playing lottery games since I was old enough to buy a ticket and I have news for you guys- anyone cashing this many tickets is not legit. Not that I haven't used "signers" at the dog track before. Twice, to be exact. These people that sign for voluminous amounts of lottery tickets are opportunists. I mean, how easy is it to grab a couple hundred dollars worth of losers out of a trash can and claim that they were yours, so you can write off the loss? Yeah, the guy at the dog track does it too, but he doesn't have 1,600 places to buy a ticket. And if you're cashing tickets on the Pick3 or Pick4 for more than $599, you don't know know to buy tickets to avoid taxes.

          The article fails to mention the other type of player that would seek a signer, which would be the illegal alien.I suspect that is where a good deal of the business comes from for the people mentioned in the article. I often wonder about this- especially in Florida- when I see so many unclaimed jackpot prizes, especially in the Fantasy5 game. One could argue that Florida is a tourist state; Massachusetts is not.

          You can be assured that lottery retailers will become more involved (with surveillance video to support claims). The term, "I can't remember where I bought it" will be commonplace.

            Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
            Zeta Reticuli Star System
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            Posted: August 3, 2017, 9:59 pm - IP Logged

            Doesn't Mass. also have a large number of 'wise guys' with multiple wins?

            Scared

            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.

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              Posted: August 3, 2017, 10:53 pm - IP Logged

              The policy will allow the state to freeze payouts to customers who redeem six or more prizes of $1,000 or more during a 12-month period. Players who are suspended will have an opportunity to appeal and show they are not violating the law. 

              I hope it takes more than redeeming 6 or more prizes of 1k in a 12 month period to be suspended. The fact that one then has to prove their innocence seriously rubs me the wrong way. 

              Yeah, that's ridiculous, I've won 3 prizes over $1,000 so far this year, going to redeem and cash one tomorrow in fact. 

                grwurston's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                Winning is great.
                bel air maryland
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                Posted: August 4, 2017, 12:38 am - IP Logged

                The policy will allow the state to freeze payouts to customers who redeem six or more prizes of $1,000 or more during a 12-month period. Players who are suspended will have an opportunity to appeal and show they are not violating the law. 

                I hope it takes more than redeeming 6 or more prizes of 1k in a 12 month period to be suspended. The fact that one then has to prove their innocence seriously rubs me the wrong way. 

                I Agree!  What happened to, innocent until proven guilty? Hitting 6 times a year ain't nothing. Notice how it doesn't say how

                long they will hold on to your money. Maybe they think if they keep it long enough people will just give up trying to get it.

                One more thought. Now if you win more than 6 times legitimately, exactly HOW are you supposed to prove it was legit?

                This sounds like a whole lotta  BS to me!!!  And, I see a lawsuit in the future.

                "You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame baseball player.

                The numbers will tell you what numbers to play. Pay attention to the numbers.

                A year from now, you'll wish you had started today.

                  MillionsWanted's avatar - 24Qa6LT

                  Norway
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                  December 10, 2004
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                  Posted: August 4, 2017, 10:59 am - IP Logged

                  Buying tickets in 1,200 stores? Jaafar must be a busy man.

                   Thinking of...

                    noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                    Chasing the Dream.
                    Utopia- California
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                    Posted: August 4, 2017, 11:12 am - IP Logged

                    As ick Clanton once said to Doc Holliday  in Tombstone " No one is that lucky, what, that's your 10th hand in a row?"

                    Plus the apples here don't seem to be falling far from the tree, with the other two being rounded up in a sting operation.Go figure.

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

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                      New Member
                      Atlanta
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                      July 25, 2017
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                      Posted: August 4, 2017, 12:39 pm - IP Logged

                      Hello all ~waving~ It's my first time here and posting. So nothing fancy yet.

                      Millionswanted that's the point and the very reason why there is reason for suspicion.  This article is speaking of the exceptions that cause suspicion and the need to be investigated not the normal lottery player who is playing legitimately.  Look at the amount of money won, stores visited in a day none the less.  That is not normal and I don't care what anyone says.  Most of us stick to certain areas due to the nature of our habits.

                        msharkey2001's avatar - Trek startrek.gif
                        New Hampshire
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                        Posted: August 4, 2017, 1:11 pm - IP Logged

                        I'm a casual ($100 per month) lottery player just north of the border in New Hampshire. When I'm down in Mass I play their games and I can say that I do seem to win something in the Mass lottery more often than my home lotto.

                          Cassie8620's avatar - 4rqgj4
                          California
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                          March 13, 2017
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                          Posted: August 4, 2017, 4:15 pm - IP Logged

                          Ditto. That blurb caught my attention too. Winning $1K+ at least 6 times in a year is common for some regular players. That's far too restrictive. 50 times or whatever, sure that would be more reasonable. Lotteries already have a bad reputation at not paying out in a timely manner as it is verses other gaming alternatives. Casinos routinely payout wins far larger than $1K within minutes, including to players who have hit over 6 times in the same day.

                          Seems to me, Massachusetts Lottery players should wager small, such as Pick-3, and/or large, such as jackpot games. For those who frequently play Pick-4, wager more on Pick-3 instead to ensure payouts never exceed $600 per ticket. No forms to fill out, no taxes withheld, no restrictions on payouts, no worrying about being suspended, etc.

                          yep. you're thinking as i do and my family about this. I was reading on Mass Live a link i got shown to me and my friend and i laugh at it.

                          Make no sense, "let's go and crack down on those who are feasibly cashing them for family who owe support,or taxes. "smh. I hope they bet smarter

                          IF they are.I do not know.Just sayin' as i love pick 3 best and pick 4 too.I won much already this year.  Hope it continue,with p3 and p4,and no issuse there lol

                          Not here in NC. I go cash it when it's pick 4 exact multiple x and the lady (Same one)or a older man 60s go, "You're great at what you do  Cassie,and to "keep on winning!"and they smile,then i leave with my check or checks. No worry there.lol

                          674=$6200  

                          8620(3x) + p3 =$7750

                          860= $6400 

                          7447= $6800

                          302= $3900

                           

                            mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
                            JACKPOT HUNTER

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                            Posted: August 4, 2017, 4:30 pm - IP Logged

                            BSMan, this is total BULL CRAP  BS

                            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****