California Lottery “Winner” Was Undercover AgentWednesday May 6th 2015
A California Lottery agent has had his cover blown after an appeal for a man supposedly owed a five-figure prize was revealed to be part of a general compliance investigation. The agent visited the Chevron station in Palmdale on March 25th with a “winning” Wild West Poker scratchcard that had picked up the top prize of $75,000. Instead of alerting the man to his five-figure prize, the cashier gave him $75 after looking at the ticket.
California Lottery officials were forced to admit that there was no winner after a media campaign to find the missing winner was launched by the gas station. The man was a compliance officer on a regularly scheduled inspection stop, according to Russell Lopez, a spokesperson for the California Lottery. Such checks are used “to protect our business, our players and yes, our retailers,” he added.
Shamsun Islam, the manager of the Chevron station, says that the clerk “feels so bad” about what happened, and that he had called her shortly after the incident. “He would never do anything wrong. He made a mistake. He realized after the guy left,” she said.
Eventually, Islam got in touch with California Lottery officials, who told her that someone would visit the station to pick up the ticket. No one showed up to grab the scratchcard, and so Islam reached out to local media to try and find the missing “winner”, providing local news outlets with video footage of the man trying to redeem the ticket.
According to Lopez, an investigation has been launched as “it appears the ticket was mishandled.” The California Lottery is now attempting to figure out if the error in the shop was an accident or was intentional. If it was a deliberate action, the Chevron station could lose the ability to sell lottery tickets - an important source of income for many retailers.
If you’re checking your tickets in a retail location, make sure that you sign the back and ask for a receipt straight away. While malicious intent is rare, mistakes do happen, and it’s better to have proof that you own a winning ticket than to lose out on a big prize. If you play draw games, you can also check on the latest lottery results at the Winning Numbers page without even having to leave the comfort of your own home.