Retailer employee "fake scans" lottery tickets to reap the rewards
By Kate Northrop
WOODLAND, Ga — A gas station employee is accused of stealing over $127,000 worth of lottery tickets in a scheme he ran over time from behind the counter.
A Georgia man is behind bars after operating a "fake scanning" scheme that landed prizes from actual lottery winners straight into his own pocket.
On Feb. 24, gas station owner George Joseph phone police to report that he had caught one of his employees, Harish Bhatia, stealing from the store.
When deputies arrived, Joseph told them that his suspicions led him to place marked bills in the cash register, which he watched Bhatia grab and put in his pocket on the security camera. As an additional measure, Joseph sent someone into the store with winning lottery tickets for Bhatia to pay out.
Bhatia did pay out the lottery prizes with money from the register but did not scan the tickets through the Georgia Lottery terminal that would have registered the ticket.
The clerk then stuffed the winning tickets in his pants. It was enough for officials to arrest him for two felonies — theft by taking and theft by conversion.
Deputies searched Bhatia and found $1,400 in marked $100 bills, the ones that Joseph had placed in the cash register. He also possessed $830 worth of winning lottery tickets that he did not scan through the Georgia Lottery terminal.
In just the month of February alone, video surveillance revealed that Bhatia had done this 24 different times.
Bhatia would "fake scan" lottery tickets by hitting the "ticket inquiry" button instead of the "cash out" button on the Lottery machine. He would then take the tickets to a store in Columbus and cash them in for himself.
According to investigators, Bhatia stole $2,230 from running the scam on Feb. 24 and $22,910 for the entire month of February.
Joseph says that Bhatia has been his employee for five years and believes that he has stolen $127,954 in total from running the scam. He was alerted to the problem when someone left an anonymous letter at his store in Cataula that said Bhatia was cashing in tickets at an unnamed store in Columbus.
Bhatia is currently being held at Talbot County Jail and is charged with 24 counts of theft by taking and 24 counts of theft by conversion.
When will they learn?
Computerized cash register are very precise. They give a report at the end of shift with a complete breakdown of every transaction and the total money.
How he didn't get caught sooner is a mystery.
Camera? what Camera....LOL guys an idiot as well as a thief.
The age-old problem with these types of "quick money" scams is that the money comes so fast that it becomes addictive. Once you are addicted you lose all sense of reason, all you see is another winning ticket.....and then another...etc. Pretty soon you are being fingerprinted at a police station. And suddenly the whole thing seems pretty stupid.
What people do for money!
If Bhatia cashed the tickets at another store why did he have the marked bills in his possession. I cannot figure out how the owner of store didn't have his register come up short. Help me with this. I get that he didn't scan the tickets but wouldn't the customer get the marked bills.
Hey I think I won, here check this ticket for me. Congrats you won 10. dollars! Here ya go
Ok, I understand the shorting customers of what their actual prize was. Don't scan it and tell them they won 10.00 when they actually won 100.00. But now the register is short 10.00. You would think he would take 10.00 out of his pocket and put it back. Register is square and he has a 100.00 ticket to cash somewhere else for a 90.00 profit. Why would he take the unknowingly marked bills to him out of his register. Hard to fathom that many would not be aware and he could dupe that many but it is Georgia. He could have cashed it there with the actual winning ticket to clear the register shortage and taken the marked bills but he went to another store with them. You can't cash them twice. Article was not clear that he shorted the payoffs to people but I guess that was obvious.
This is exactly why i scan my tickets with the lottery app before i go cash them. I know exactly the amount I'm getting back. Don't know why so many people don't do that. That's a ton of money he took from people.
dont trust no one!
People are lazy or uneducated. There is no way I would go into the store and ask them to check my ticket without me knowing the actual amount I won.
* l have to admit pstfleur, l get a lump in my throat when folks say they are " not lazy or uneducated. " Such blatant honesty is rare.
in our great country they know the Punishment does not fit the actual crime, like my daddy always would say, so why not." Sad, but true.
I am sure he is OK with being arrested/caught, as he got alot of money out of it,so now has to do "time."
He can care less.
and I will follow to see how much prison easy time he get with this new wave "punishment" i.e.,
-heck, even some get to marry in prison, without issue.
-phone calls, some even get cell fones (illegally)
so, til' the PUNISHMENT FIT the crime, nothing will sadly change, America way too soff on crime. Bye now.
Uneducated. I've been to Cataula. It's a little backwoods, country town.