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Fake Lottery Tickets Scam Unsuspecting Customers Out of Thousands

By Ari Mason • Published September 26, 2014 • Updated on September 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

Have you played the lottery lately? State officials are warning residents of a scammer selling scratched-off tickets that appear to be winners but in reality are costing customers thousands of dollars.

The Department of Consumer Protection is on the hunt for a man selling bogus tickets in the Bridgeport and Norwalk areas that have been altered to look like grand-prize winners.

According to the DCP, customers have purchased the shoddy tickets for between $500 and $2,000 and were led to believe they could cash them in for a $20,000 prize. In reality, the tickets are worthless.

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The scammer or scammers provide victims with “a variety of reasons why they cannot cash the tickets themselves” and “seek to prey on the public’s good will, and defraud unsuspecting customers,” according to the DCP.

“We have already received several complaints from victims who bought these tickets for between $500 and $2,000, believing that they could cash them in for the winning prize of $20,000,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said.

According to gaming officials, customers have been targeted on Main Street in Norwalk and on Madison Avenue in Bridgeport. The “con artists” approach consumers, offering to sell them a winning lottery ticket for less than the so-called prize won, according to the DCP.

“It’s illegal to sell anything on the streets,” said Upen Shah, who owns Crossroads Gifts in Norwalk. “You should not be buying anything on the street from anybody other than lottery agents.”

Customers should only buy lottery tickets from one of the state’s 2,900 authorized retailers, which will contain the lottery decal and a lottery terminal in the store, along with official signage, according to Diane Patterson, vice president of marketing and sales at CT Lottery.

“Whenever you go to the store, make sure there is a license provided by the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services,” said Shah.

Additionally, all authorized locations should have a “Lottery Ticket Checker” customers can use to verify the location’s credentials, the DCP said.

Rubenstain warns the public not to “take the word of anyone” offering a winning ticket for cash.

State officials have used surveillance footage to identify a suspect, who is described as a black man wearing a white beret, white T-shirt with a gray zip-up hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans and sneakers.

Law enforcement and the DCP are working together to track down the culprit.

“There are some bad people who are trying to use these innocent people, and trying to make them fools,” Shah said.

Anyone who is approached by a person offering to sell lottery tickets should report the incident to Investigator James Jepsen at 860-713-6286 or [email protected]

“Scams of this nature are generally perpetrated by con artists who tamper with non-winning lottery tickets in an effort to defraud consumers and the State,” Connecticut Lottery Corporation President and CEO Anne M. Noble said in a statement. “We join Commissioner Rubenstein in encouraging consumers to stay alert and safe. If you are approached by someone who offers to ‘sell’ you a winning lottery ticket, just say no. Leave the area, contact your local authorities or the Department of Consumer Protection and provide a description of the con artist and any information that will assist authorities.”

Have you played the lottery lately? State officials are warning residents of a scammer selling scratched-off tickets that appear to be winners but in reality…