Be careful around your lotto tickets as someone else may cash in on your huge win instead.
That's what would have happened to a man in Massachusetts after a convenience store clerk allegedly stole his winning ticket. Luckily, the scheme was busted and he eventually got to take home his January lottery winnings.
According to a statement by the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, the man, identified as Paul Little by various news reports, almost fell victim to a scheme by 23-year-old Carly Nunes wherein she allegedly pocketed his winning tickets and attempted to cash in on the $3 million (P167 million) he won.
The case started when Little had entered the store and purchased a bag of barbecue potato chips and several lottery tickets. He then left the store and drove home with the bag of potato chips, but left the lottery tickets behind in the terminal tray.
After realizing he no longer had his tickets, Little briefly searched for them, but eventually concluded that they were lost.
That evening, however, his lottery ticket numbers were announced as the winning numbers, earning a $3 million prize. This prompted Nunes, along with a co-worker, to travel to the Massachusetts State Lottery Headquarters two days later to redeem the ticket, which is said to have been "torn and appeared to be burned."
But the scheme was eventually busted when a surveillance video surfaced showing Nunes and her co-worker arguing in the lobby about how much they would split the money, with Nunes allegedly informing her co-worker that she would "only pay him $200,000 (P11 million)."
The arguments were overheard by state Lottery officials, and suspicions about the rightful winner of the lottery only escalated because of the battered condition of the ticket.
This resulted in an investigation by state and local police and the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission that lasted for several months.
Nunes argued that she mistakenly tore the ticket when removing it from her wallet and the burn marks were the result of her accidentally placing the ticket on a pipe. However, surveillance footage from the store confirmed that it was actually Little who had bought the ticket.
Furthermore, during a further interview with investigators, Nunes no longer claimed to have purchased the ticket herself, but instead said she inadvertently obtained the winning ticket.
Through flyers plastered with the rightful ticket owner’s face around town, Little was eventually located and interviewed by investigators. He has since received his check and has expressed his immense gratitude to the people who have helped him with the stolen ticket.
Nunes has meanwhile pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, which include larceny, attempted larceny, presentation of a false claim and witness intimidation.