Listen I have a friend who is from India. He owned a store here in Queens. He was a very nice guy or so I thought. We became friends over the years. About 3 or 4 years ago he left the country very fast. They shut the store down and left the USA so fast and left everything behind. Everything in the store I mean everything. And one day he sent me an email and we started to chat. I acted like I knew nothing but I had heard rumours about something to do with lottery tickets etc.
So we started to chat. I asked him straight out one day about what the hell happened and why they shut the store down so fast and why he left. I guess because he was not in the USA anymore nor was he ever coming back, him or the other 2 owners he did not care what he said to me. So I asked him straight out Jeff why did you guys leave so fast out of NY the way you guys did.
He said they were scamming people out of their lottery winnings. He said that what they would do is, they had losing tickets under the counter and when someone came in he would take the ticket from them and scam it. Now this was before you would hear the noise from the machine or even before you can scan it yourself. So what he would do is quickly look at the ticket and if it was a winner he would switch it out real fast with a losing ticket. and he would say this is a loser. Now he would also talk to you before he did anything to see if you knew it was a winner or not and he would not do it to just anyone. he would only do it to people he knew would trust him, accept his answers, naive people, people that just scratched it and did not really check it. If the person knew they won something he would switch it out for a smaller prize ticket he had.
He said it was very elaborate. Him and the 2 store owners concocted this scam so good that they were pulling in amounts that he would not tell me. He also did not tell me what the biggest scam he pulled was. But he did say that it was not exclusive to scratch offs that they would do it with lottery tickets also. It all depended on who the person was. If it was an avid gambler he would not make any attempts because he said they knew exactly what they are owed and how much they won. But seniors were the best he said. because they would scratch them right there in the store and give them right to him to check them for them.
After years of being in business and a very profitable neighborhood business here in Ozone Park one night the first owner ran off to Canada and within 3 days the second owner had disappeared and the kid who was the brains behind the whole scam was left at the store. What happened was the first owner took money out of the safe and ran off. the second owner took money from the account and ran off and Jeff the kid who really only worked their but was behind this elaborate scam was left hiding the bag, so to speak so he took off with all the rest of the money and ran away to India. he said that he thinks that they were being investigated and it was closing in on them so the owners cut out and Jeff did not want to take the rap alone so he took off to India. he says that he got no money out of it because it was in the safe and the owners took it but many of us do not believe the story at all. We think that they split the money 3 ways and took off but we do not know.
I will tell you that the owner of the building was told to come to the store because it had not been opened all week and the food was rotted. the day he came to the store there were rats all over the place. They had literally left everything even the cigarettes and the coins but no cash. the food smelled so bad it was horrible and the health department had also been called because people saw the rats coming in through the basement. It was terrible. But people that knew Jeff all said the same thing that they think they might have hit a large number of winnings and split it and left.
I asked Jeff about this. All he would say is listen we have families and we did what we had to do. I asked him how he felt about the people he scammed and he did not say anything. but he did say that where they come from this is life for them and he tried to justify it with some religious bulls**t and he said he had to do what he had to do to take care of his wife and children that were in India.
I spoke to some people that are from middle eastern countries and they basically said that where they come from it is normal to do whatever you have to do to help your family make it. I asked this one guy from Iraq or Iran I do not remember which, and he said that we have these stupid morals and principals that make it so easy for them to scam us because we live a certain way and they take advantage of our morals. he said to me straight out that he does not have any remorse for what they have to do to feed their families. I asked him if he has done any scams with the lottery and he just smiled and said what do you think. I live in Ozone Park and mostly all of our businesses are middle eastern owned. There are very few stores left that are not middle eastern anymore. So I have learned a lot of things about these people and their lack of morals and principals. i have had a lot and I mean a lot of them try to scam me out of change. i give them a 20 and they give me change back of a ten. This happens all the time and I am not kidding you. They joke that it was an honest mistake but after getting to know these people and their ways and customs I am telling you this is all part of a systematic scam. It is how they are brought up and raised. And if you do not believe me just go and try and see how they will try to scam you out of your money.
I am sorry but i do not like to generalize but the reality is just that, the reality and we have to be smart about how we do things because these people have upped the game and they are smart. I believe that this is a bigger problem than being reported out by the NYS lottery agency because they do not want people to lose faith in a system built on honor. But the fact is that these people know how to scam us and they do it well. Watch your tickets. make sure they are not bent, or scratched, make sure they look old. Make sure the dates on your tickets are the date you are playing.
We live in a different life now. The people are not raised the same. We were raised with morals, principals standards, ethics, integrity, honor and virtuous ways that most society's are raised with. But the people from the middle east are raised much different. they believe for instance that they can kill under Allah etc etc and so they do not have the same morals and standard the rest of the world has and that is why they do what they do because they take advantage of our naivety so to speak because we try to believe that people are good.
So we need to change how we deal with people now. we need to question them and check and double check everything because in the end they are trying to scam you and if you do not go in knowing what you won they will scam your ticket right from you. And the NYS Lottery knows all about this but do not want to entertain the notion that there are more than a few bad apples in the bunch because than they take a risk that people will not trust the system and they will lose money. It is sad that their bottom line is more important than the protection of the people that play these games. If they really cared they would have participated in the dateline series investigation when they came to NY to see how many retailers were bad.
Thank you and I hope that you will think twice before you believe the guy behind the counter when he tells you your ticket did not win. watch out.