Michigan lottery retailers are getting busted for stealing customers' winning tickets


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Well, this is one scam we'd never thought of.

Some employees at party and grocery stores around Michigan have apparently been collecting winning lottery tickets, telling people they lost, and then cashing in.

The practice has reportedly prompted the Michigan Lottery Bureau to suspended or revoke the licenses of about five retailers since 2016, according to the Detroit Free Press. The daily reports that one of those suspensions happened at a store in Clinton Township last year, after a man working at Nick’s Party Stop on Cass Avenue redeemed a winning ticket that he collected from a customer. Store employee Don Kallo walked away with $2,517. The customer wound up with nothing.

Suspensions over the practice are rare, and make up just a fraction of a percent of the 269 Michigan lottery suspensions since last year, according to the Freep. The majority of retailers are suspended for falling behind on what they owe the lottery bureau from ticket sales.

It's unclear how many times retailers suspended for cheating in Michigan cashed in on someone else's winning ticket and how much they made off the practice. (Kallo, for his part, claimed he didn't have glasses on and thought the customer's winning ticket was his).

About a decade ago, an NBC Dateline investigation found that lottery retailers, clerks, and their relatives were among the top winners of ten state lotteries that reporters looked into. At a store in Illinois, for example, Dateline found that four employees and their relatives had cashed more than 500 winning tickets for a total of $1.6 million.

According to the Free Press, Michigan Lottery Bureau officials have created a strong incentive for retailers to avoid any dealings that may cost them their license. In addition to bringing in extra customers, lottery retailers get a 6 percent commission on ticket sales and a 2 percent commission on prizes they redeem.

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